Straight Metal War
Hells Headbangers (2015)
One of at least three bands to employ the moniker, this particular Barbatos hail from Japan and is the side project of Yasuyuki Suzuki, who is better known for plying his grisly trade with Abigail and Tiger Junkies; the latter a collaboration with Toxic Holocaust mainman Joel Grind.
Barbatos is extremely prolific for a “side band”; launched in 1996, this is the fifth full-length studio album release alongside six live albums and numerous split projects. Barbatos is also known for such brilliant album titles as Rocking Metal Motherfucker (2003) and Let’s Fucking Die! (2006).
Barbatos is very much the work of Yasuyuki Suzuki, but as a live band he has enlisted the help of numerous musicians over the years including members of Sigh, Gallhammer and Sabbat.
For those of you obsessed with the current trend of relatively new bands attempting to ape the 80s, then Straight Metal War is a lesson to show how it’s really done. Suzuki serves up a galloping, traditional metal riot which also boasts flecks of Venom, Bathory and Motörhead as well as hints of crusty speed metal. For me, it’s the vocals which give the album an edge, although they may be an acquired taste for some; the style varies from more of a cracked, dry yelp to a more frequent distinctive warble.
Opener ‘Rocking Metal Sluts’ is a killer driving speed anthem. Barbatos make no attempt to be original; indeed, we’ve heard such hasty surges many times before through the years, but there’s just something so authentic about this devilish metal.
‘Heavy Metal Forces 3’, however, is a straight down the line metal, boasting persistent solos and classic melodies, although the sinister trudge at the three-minute mark is certainly more impressive.
What sets bands like this aside though from the rest is its ability to inject humour but still make the metal sound serious. For instance, the oddly titled ‘Goodbye High School Girls’ and ‘Fly To The Sexual World’ would normally be laughed at, but the Asian metal market does have that warped sense of humour – as reflected in its horror films – so what we get with these particular tracks is an almost sickly, glammy speed metal marrying. But one cannot question the fantastic guitar work and rampant drum which never lets up the pace.
Personally, I still prefer the darker, dirtier edge to Barbatos as explored with the vicious rattle of ‘Straight Metal War’ and toxic ‘Satanik Holocaust’; both boasting frenetic thrashing structures and those harsher vocal yelps. I guess in a sense though the tracks on offer throughout display the great variety and unpredictable arsenal Barbatos has up their sleeve, but to hear such war-torn belches of satanic fury alongside, say, the poppy ‘Seven Teen’ is absolutely absurd. Then again though, if it were any other band we’d all be laughing until the cows come home, and yet I just find the whole record as decidedly warped and peculiar; ‘Hey! Hey! Hey!’ being a veritable smörgåsbord of New Wave Of British Heavy Metal-styled energy, while ‘Dreamin’ Dreamin’’ has a punk enthusiasm with potent bass trundle and seething vocal squawk.
How Barbatos has successfully managed to fuse sleaze, punk, black metal and classic metal I’ll never know, but the end result is one both strange and infectious.
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