Stallion are a recent act out of Germany that aim to add to the pile of traditional revival. Forming in 2013, they’ve focused most of their style towards the speed metal end. Their third full-length album Slaves Of Time continues down this path. But repeated listens reveal a lot more influence than what that cut-and-dried description would lead you to believe. I truly think that this would sit well with heavy, speed, thrash, glam, and rock ‘n roll junkies.
The heavier songs are very front-loaded, which was likely meant to grab the attention of those who prefer their music a bit more extreme. “No Mercy” is all but a thrash song, churning out pissed off riff after riff. The only thing that dilutes it down is the welcoming chorus. Drastic changes in attitude are a strong point for these heavier songs, which can be found immediately in “Waking The Demons.” The solo completely shifts the rhythms constructed on major scales to a lead attack from minor ones.
The deeper you go, the more you can pick up the direct influences. Vocally, this brings falsettos to complete overdrive, which I’ll admit was overdone past the max. Naturally, that lets on later Judas Priest vibes. “Brain Dead” is way too close to “Painkiller” for comfort, as if they dropped that song into a blender and poured it into a different shape. “All In” manages to whip up some King Diamond vocals near the end, despite a slight drop in intensity.
Side B of Slaves Of Time dials a lot of this over-saturation back. You’ll find more rock ‘n roll tropes and dashes of sleaze, leading these songs to be more consistent and balanced on the traditional spectrum. “Kill The Beast” has the best fret-board attacks, and “Meltdown” follows this perfectly, closing the disc on a note that expresses Stallion’s shredding abilities. The best song, however, is a ballad in the middle that divides both sides, titled “Die With Me.” The vocals don’t lose any energy, and the clean melodies with somber riffing are fucking beautiful. Even with the emotional peak, it remains so powerful.
Admittedly, this was a harder disc to dissect, since there’s so much brought to the table for something that should feel straightforward. There are two things that hold Stallion back from being great. For one, their vocalist needs to tackle more range, so that it doesn’t get tiring. A more solid flow and consistency would be the perfect finishing touch. But I won’t pretend that this isn’t an enjoyable listen, and anyone who likes heavy albums that aren’t extreme should give this a listen.
Slaves Of Time will be out on February 28th, 2020 through High Roller Records.