Death Dealer – War Master


DeathDealer_cover (1)Looking at the cover art for War Master by Death Dealer, I couldn’t help but think this was either going to be a spoof like Austrian Death Machine or it was going to be an old-school/classic/power metal album.  While I can appreciate Austrian Death Machine, I was happy to hear the classic power metal emanating from my speakers.  Death Dealer waste no time in setting the tone for War Master, with the band’s namesake track starting out with some rapid-fire drumming that is joined by some high-pitched screaming vocals and fast guitars.  With members sharing a pedigree including Manowar, Cage, Halford, and Lizzy Borden, you can imagine pretty well what the end product would sound like and you would be right.

One of the joys of the internet age is the relative ease at which music collaborations can happen.  The supergroups of year’s past were a rare commodity as it was typically difficult or nearly impossible to get everyone together to record.  Now, band members never even have to be in the same country to put together a project.  In some ways this is good as sometimes egos are so big they can’t exist in the same studio at the same time, but this does lead to collaborations and bands putting together projects where there is never an intention to tour and let’s face it, when an album is great, we all love to see it performed live, so there is a downside as well.  Death Dealer have said that “it’s important for us to be seen as a true band…we are very serious about the music without taking ourselves too seriously”, so let’s hope they can get together and hit the road, because this is heavy, fun music that would be great to see live.

Death Dealer are certainly a blend of the various band members’ experiences mixed together with some influences from other bands that were their peers.  In this genre, what really stand out on first listen are typically the vocals and guitars and Death Dealer are no exception.  Sean Peck’s (Cage) vocals are very strong over a huge range, and instantly bring to mind Rob Halford and Bruce Dickinson but I also pick up a strong resemblance to Ian Gillan as well, which is a bit out of the norm.  I certainly hear the Gillian-like sounds in the screams in the song “Death Dealer” and in some other places in the album, but to his credit, Peck has his own style and is not simply copying the masters.  While the vocals are incredibly strong, I do feel they tend to stay a bit too much in the higher register screams than I’d prefer, but that’s likely just my preferences showing through.  Stu Marshall (Empires of Eden) and Ross the Boss (Manowar) certainly have the skills on guitar to generate respect in this genre.  Good riffs and good solos characterize every song , so on the main points for the genre, Death Dealer come through very strong.  Not to take away from the bass and drums, but those typically are mostly anchors for the sound in this genre.  On War Machine, however, the drums are another standout part of the soundscape, again owing to the experience coming from Rhino (Manowar) in this case, covering everything from rapid-fire double bass worthy of speed metal to complicated rhythms.

I’m not sure how this album was recorded, but one thing I notice is that when guitar solos are being traded off, one of the guitars sounds as if it was added later and doesn’t appear to quite fit with the rest of the mix.  Granted the overall tone on that guitar is a bit different and that may account for part of the sound, but given the high quality of the mix overall, this is just one of those things that strikes me as odd.

This is one of those albums that while maybe not taking itself too seriously has obviously had a lot of time and attention put into it in terms of not only the performances, but also the song writing.  Pulling together a group of highly experienced musicians certainly has benefits and their overall experience and musical maturity shine throughout the album.

Rating: 8/10

1 Death Dealer 5:22
2 Never to Kneel 4:37
3 Warmaster 5:08
4 Children of Flames 5:13
5 Curse of the Heretic 5:19
6 Hammer Down 4:52
7 The Devils Mile 6:29
8 Liberty or death 4:42
9 Heads Spikes Walls 4:06
10 Wraiths on the Wind 4:40

Band members:
vocals – Sean Peck [Cage]
guitars – Stu Marshall [Empires Of Eden]
guitars – Ross The Boss [Manowar]
drums – Rhino [ex-Manowar]
bass – Mike Davis [Halford, Lizzy Borden]

Record Label: Steel Cartel Records, June 2013

Weblinks: Website / Facebook / Twitter

Buy the album here:
Holland: First Paradox
Norway: Nordic Mission
USA: Metal Helm

“Death Dealer” [full song]



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