Review by Carl “Thunarr” Pickles
Pardon? Are you sure about that? OK, let me get this right… Vampires in the Luftwaffe? They’re playing what? NWOBHM-influenced Metal? They’re reminiscent of Maiden, Cathedral and Manowar at their best? What’s not to like?!
Down to business, then. This is the second release by Luftwaffe Vampires, Stuka Squadron, the first being an EP featuring three tracks that appear on this album. From their website and the lyrics, it looks like these guys have been reading Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula sequel, The Bloody Red Baron (actually, you should too. Do yourselves a favour and go and buy a copy). Fair enough. Can’t complain about that.
So they’ve got an interesting image and rather a good live reputation, what about the music, then? I’ll write this on the fly as I listen to the album, in a sort of stream-of consciousness style…
Following a nice atmospheric intro, we’re straight into the title track, Tales Of The Ost. A good little stomping opener with nice line in choral backing vocals on the chorus. It begs to be played loud, and turning it up just makes you nod along harder. Excellent soloing. Good enough to be a set closer.
After another bit of atmosphere, we’re into Stuka Squadron. Fast opening, slow mid-section before stepping on the accelerator again in the run-up to the end and a chorus you can shout along to. Enjoyed that. Good song. After a bit more atmosphere, we’re into On The Volga Bridge, which showcases some fantastic guitar-duelling from Gravedigger Cox and Count Axis.
Next up, we’ve got a mid-paced stomper with a few clever time changes by the name of Tiger 1. That’s followed by a change of pace in The Fall, then we’re back into it properly with Lovecraft. By this time, I’m starting to get something of a Manowar vibe going on here, too. The backing vocals are even going a bit Blue Öyster Cult. Not bad at all. Really rather enjoying this.
Zabulon’s Inferno starts with a crushingly heavy opening section, before kicking it up a gear. The Maiden influence is strong in this one. It’s one of the highlights of the album so far. Galloping bassline, harmonizing guitars with a definite dash of Bill Ward-esque drumming. This one’s fairly ripping along. Head’s starting to nod again. Cracking song, this one.
The pairing of Lord Of Valhalla and One Eyed God King slows down the pace and ramps up the heaviness. On this evidence, when Lee Dorian and company finally hang up their spurs, these guys could well fill the gap in our lives.
Finally, onto We Drink Blood… this is the way to close an album! With its pummelling riff and shout along chorus, they’ve definitely saved the best one until last. This one Rocks like a bastard!
To sum up, then, although the production does leave a little to be desired (but considering this album is self-released, that’s definitely forgivable), there’s a savage joy in these songs that puts a grin on your face and just makes you want to nod along, even on the first hearing. The debt owed to Steve Harris’s merry band is obvious, but is that necessarily a bad thing? Personally, I don’t think so, especially when it’s done this well, and the band themselves are obviously enjoying themselves so much. Actually, given the choice, I’d rather listen to Tales Of The Ost than Final Frontier, if truth be known. And you can quote me on that one!
Rating: **** ½