Heretic – “A Game You Cannot Win” (Dissonance)
A speed thrash name from back in the 80s, Heretic played shows in the LA area with no less than Armored Saint, Saxon, Metallica, Lita Ford, Helloween, Motorhead, Lizzy Borden and Malice – to name but a few! Featured on “Metal Massacre VII” before issuing their debut in 1988, the band would sadly disband after losing vocalist Mike Howe to Metal Church, ironically resulting in founder guitarist Brian Korban later forming Reverend with ex Metal Church vocalist Dave Wayne!!!! Resurrecting (no pun intended) Heretic in 2011, the band released their sophomore the following year, spurring renewed interest from fans old and new, and more inspirationally, the growing ‘true’ metal movement in Europe, where the band have since made festival appearances. Now they return after 5 years with this brilliant release! Truth be told, it’s not what I would call thrash let alone speed metal being pretty much at mid tempo pace – however, it’s just so goddamn heavy man!! Probably taking their early inspiration from Judas Priest’s classic “British Steel” era and erring towards the heavier heavy metal issued by Accept, Metal Church and later Nevermore, “A Game You Cannot Win” is 13 tracks of steam hammering molten heavy metal!!! Korban clearly hasn’t lost his love of playing this stuff (and neither have I ha ha) and is an accomplished master of the riff, delivering rip roaring razors that tear into you so blissfully while stamping ‘US Metal’ throughout with his blistering solos. That said, there’s plenty of heavy melody throughout with high n soulful vocalist Julian Mendez certainly adding his measure to the passion on headbanging dreams like ‘This World Called Hell’ that includes some Overkill style shout outs, while on ‘Broken Hero’ the heavy dirty guitars are made even more weighty by Angelo Espino’s (Bitch, Hirax, Reverend) ballsy twanging bass. This is top notch modern heavy metal (with the emphasis on ‘heavy’!) rooted in the 80s and it doesn’t come more finely defined than on ‘Before The Fall’, with Mendez’s soaring highs and screams contrasted brilliantly by Iggy Coppola’s brutal but varied precision drum work – definitely a man who doesn’t stinge on his cymbals ha ha! An excellent release throughout proving why these guys were such a happening band once, and while Heretic may not be a full time commitment these days, they clearly haven’t lost their ability to deliver the heavy duty goods along with plenty of style!