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AOR Heaven (2014)
Rating: 8.5/10

It’s hard to believe that Dead End Heroes merely started out as a bunch of instrumental songs laid down by Swiss drummer Daniel Voegeli. It seems that so impressed was guitarist / producer Rolf Munkes by the talent of the sticksman, however, that he suggested forming an actual band around these tracks.

And so was born Dead End Heroes, with Voegeli and Munkes being joined by German vocalist Carsten “Lizard” Schulz, Scottish bassist Paul Logue – best known for his work with Eden’s Curse – and keyboardist / Hammond organist Holger Seeger.

As debut albums go, Roadkill is right up there with some of 2014’s best releases. The album swings into fashion with the pumping title track, the sort of direct metal masterpiece that hordes of new, revival metal bands have been trying to write but have failed miserably. It’s upbeat, sturdy and above all catchy, featuring a fantastic pre-chorus that reeks with attitude as it charges into the ears with Schulz’s gravelly groans of “Roadkill, roadkill”. Lyrically, it’s simple, almost predictable as it speaks of thunder, burning tyres, breathing gasoline and mean machines, but such is its tenacious velocity that only U.D.O. have come as close in emitting such flames of passion and desire.

‘Dead End Heroes’ follows suit; with a backbone of pulverising drums and scorching leads, it’s bare bones metal bolstered by Schulz’s sleazy vocal rasp. Hell, this guy has a serious set of pipes that run amok here; effortlessly they scorch the speakers as the guitars and bass work in cohorts to bring the levels of intensity to boiling point.

And boy do the tracks keep coming. ‘Cry For The Moon’ has a simple strut about it in pure AC/DC fashion, all the while laced with that dominant Hammond. While ‘Feed The Flames’ again rides in on a strong drum kick and bluesy guitar shift before the band explodes. This is stadium rock to the fullest; fist-pumping, greasy and energetic, and given extra grit by that Schulz growl. “I’m on the hunt for flesh, on the prowl for love” he warns before that buzzing chorus, and you believe every word as the band continues its march with ‘The Wind Howls Fire’, ‘Stormfront’ and in sweltering fashion, ‘Hands Off The Wheel’. The latter boasts a scorching guitar intro which is engulfed by a burning, lead and galloping drum, the result being a juggernaut jive that struts and swaggers as if Dead End Heroes were a multi-million selling arena rock band.

Nothing beats a debut album that boasts self-assurance by the bucket-load, and Roadkill just oozes class from beginning to end. The press release mentions how this slab of rock has a hint of Deep Purple, Krokus and Michael Schenker and I wouldn’t argue with that, such is the class of ‘Technicolor Love’ and ‘The Fire’s Worth The Loneliness’ with its James Bond-theme style intro and eventual kick-like-a-mule percussion.

Roadkill is a superb rock record that boasts a real mean streak and never comes to uninvited subtlety, despite the technical prowess of the musicians involved. Imagine Deep Purple (with Ian Gillan) at their hardest or in other words, having your ears flattened by a steamroller.

Neil Arnold

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