Lord Fist – “Wilderness Of Hearts” (High Roller Records)
Battle Helm Rating
If Kevin Heybourne had taken a lighter touch approach to Angel Witch, then Lord Fist might be result. Formed over three decades after the NWOBHM, this Finnish outfit certainly owe a lot to bands from that era judging by the highly dexterous guitar work of founders Niko Kolehmainen (Scumripper, Sonic Poison) and Perttu Koivunen (Orphan Devil) along with the latter’s clean, soulful highs that are more than reminiscent of Mr Heybourne! That said, don’t be expecting something laid back or trippy as might be hinted by the exotic album cover, as the music of Lord Fist is both energetic and played with an intense conviction that is undeniably straight from the heart. Some five years since their debut “Green Eyleen”, which certainly got the band noticed, comes sophomore “Wilderness Of Hearts”, that was almost co-written in exchanges with the earliest fans of the band. Across its 10 stirring tracks that blend in a strong epic element into its meaty true metal grooves, Lord Fist prove why they’re up there with fellow countrymen Nightstryke, Legionnaire and Angel Sword, and destined for greater things. As wave after wave of incredible melodies flies into you on ‘Wings Drawn In Our Minds’ along with equally catchy but thick power riffing, the axe majesty of Kolehmainen and Koivunen is nothing short of outstanding, while the latter’s serene vocal style adds a graceful touch in excellent contrast to the dueling and at times, frantic fretboard work. Intensifying through more wailing melodies, ‘Sisters’ showcases even more fluid guitars while the NWOBHM power riffs are unmistakable along with a galloping Maiden like groove mid song, while the vocals, although taking less prominence to the technical wizardry of the driving guitars, still has its crucial place in providing that soothing contrast to the fast fare on show here. Ending this superb release with the title track of ‘Wilderness Of Hearts’, it’s 4 1/2 minutes of relentless guitar melodies richly decorated by squeals and wails – not forgetting some classic heavy metal solos – although Koivunen does stretch his highs to push their way through the NWOBHM power and passion to show what an excellent voice he has, and a worthy contribution it is too to the trademark sound of Lord Fist.