Review by Paul Monkhouse for MPM
Best known for having featured late ex Motorhead six stringer Wurzel in their ranks, Leader of Down bring this sophomore release into screaming life, a testament to old school Heavy Metal. Whilst the bulk of the album tips its hat to the NWOBHM, albeit it with a modern sheen, there’s a lot more packed into its dozen tracks.
Opening pneumatic rocker ‘Cat’s Eye Night’ brings melody with a raw, punky edge that echoes Lemmy’s own brand of furious rock ‘n’ roll but things switch to more of a bluesy groove with its foot to the floor on ‘Holloway Hotel’, itself bringing back memories of prime Samson at their most feral.
First single ‘Hitman’ is an addictive grower, twisting, pugnacious and bold it features special guest Dennis Stratton, the Lionheart / former Iron Maiden guitarist adding a fiery solo.
The titular ‘The Screwtape Letters’ is thrusting NWOBHM, the drums of Daniel Akaoui adding a real swing to things, whilst the humourously title ‘Dodging the Landlord’ is a fun romp. Alex Ward drops the big riffs
momentarily on ‘Here’s Johnny’, going for a more spiky, New Wave approach on ‘Here’s Johnny’ and there are elements of The Who in the rolling ‘Let Them Know Your Name’.
The suitably Southern Rock vibe of ‘Whiskey Preacher’ is a stomping boogie, the bass of Tim Atkinson adding a real boom to the bang as Matt Baker resists the temptation to add a down home twang to his delivery, keeping things grounded.
The album closes with the hook packed ‘You Might’, which leans into heavy doses of late 70’s and early 80’s commercial hard rock, following it up with the dark edged hell bent for leather ‘Midnight In London’.
Whilst it may not break any new ground, ‘The Screwtape Letters’ is a solid and colourful traditional metal album shot through with lots of the genres finest moments, all thrown into one big melting pot. Leader of Down have come out swinging with this second album and hitting hard.
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