Sunday, March 4, 2012

Fire In The Brain - Again!

Oz – Burning Leather

AFM Records - 2011

Muthas, one of the great, unsung 80’s Metal bands was Oz from Finland. They released the absolutely cracking LP, Fire In The Brain, in 1983, but they never were able to top that album or break through into wider popularity. They released a few more decent records and then split up in the early 90s and the Metal world assumed that Oz was done for good. Well, much to everyone’s surprise, Oz reformed in 2010 with 3/5 of the original lineup – vocalist Ape Demartini, bassist Jay C. Blade, and drummer Mark Ruffneck. As you may have guessed, those might not be real names, unless Ape is possibly some sort of simian relative of Warren Demartini of Ratt. In 2011, Oz announced that they were going to be releasing their first new album since 1991 – Burning Leather.

Burning Leather contains 11 cuts – five new and six re-recorded classics (note that the sticker on the case is incorrect as it claims the exact opposite.) The songs are interposed with the first being new, the second re-recorded, the third new, etc…. Here at The Metal Blog of Metal, we usually cringe when we hear that an artist is releasing re-recorded tracks, as that normally means shitty versions of your beloved favorites on the abysmal Deadline/Cleopatra label (please see Dokkens 2010 Greatest Hits for a particularly egregious example.) Fortunately, that’s not the case here, as Oz treats us to excellent renditions of their classics with great production. Ape is in fine voice and the songs are treated with the reverence they deserve without any attempt to “update” or “modernize” the already excellent compositions.

All the re-recorded tracks are the cream of the band’s output with not one crap song. The album includes the godly “Searchlights,” “Fire In The Brain,” “Gambler,” “Total Metal,” and “Third Warning.” The highlight of the re-recorded tracks is the difficult to obtain “Turn The Cross Upside Down,” which is the most toe-tappingest song written about burning churches, ever!

All of these tracks are essential to any Metal collection, and now you can get them affordably on one disc. Burning Leather is worth it just for these six cuts, but what about the five new songs? Believe it or not, these five cuts are also excellent and slot in beautifully alongside the classics. Oz had always been able to craft traditional Metal songs with tons of hook and they still do that in 2011. “Dominator” is the lead single and starts the album off with the kind of Metal that the world is sorely lacking. No frilly-shirted, keyboard-laden, female-fronted crap here, no sir. Check out the video below for a taste of the excellence.

“Let Sleeping Dogs Lie” is also fantastic with that old, Scandinavian, glory Metal on display. “Seasons In The Darkness” achieves an Accept-like level of stomp as it obliterates lesser music that stumbles into its mighty path. “Burning Leather” is also superb, with a speedy pace and an undeniably catchy chorus that induces much headbanging. Wrapping up the new songs is the anthemic and pulsing “Enter Stadium” which is just begging to be played at your local arena. Hailz!


The Bottom Line: Burning Leather is a stunning return from a long gone Metal legend. Any headbanger worth his denim and leather should snap this up. Oz deserves your support so get out there and buy it!


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