Yes, that is a ninety five. That's the highest rating I will give to an album that isn't "Sad wings of destiny".
An insignificant Canadian cheese-metal band? Has the man gone insane? Not quite yet, but "Metalized" is, in a word, insane. This album is what metal is all about. Let me spell that again:
This album is what metal is all about.
"Metalized" is without flaws. Well, it's too short, but so is life, and at least the CD player comes with a repeat button. Possibly, this is the shortest album I will ever give such a high rating (though "Hail to England" comes pretty damn close), but it's simply that good. Ten fantastic songs, an outstanding drive and a vocal delivery for the ages.
If you're looking for some uncomplicated, bare-bones rocking heavy metal, without the endless "Girls! Girls! Girls!"-chants and arena posing, this is it. "Metalized" is sometimes traditional metal, sometimes speed metal, but always with a relentless riff presence, and ALWAYS with the sole ambition to convey force. These guys don't care how rich they get, they just play. This is called integrity. In the mid-tempo tracks, the energy is so tangible you can feel the air vibrating of contained power, and then they just unleash everything at the end of the song, fulfilling all the pent-up expectations.
Unless they just erupt from the start, like in "Outta control". That song has got to be the most perfect all-out rocker I have ever heard. It embodies everything about our way of life. "OUTTA CONTROL! I'M OUTTA CONTROL! I'M READY TO ROCK! I'M READY TO ROLL!" Corny as hell, but it WORKS, and that's simply because of the band's focus and irresistable energy. Most other bands would come off as embarrassing, trying something THAT stupid. But Sword mean it - they are here to rock, not pose. Not all the lyrics are quite as lowbrow as "Outta control", but if you're looking for ancient philosophy...keep looking.
"I was headbanging the whole thing through!" - Socrates
There's nothing even close to a skipper here. For an album with songwriting this simple, it also feels remarkably varied. We got the fast songs (aforementioned "Outta control" and "Runaway"), the powerful mid-tempo pounders ("Stoned again", "Dare to spit"), the wonderful galloping opener "F.T.W.", the creepy closer "Evil spell", and the all-of-the-above-divine "Where to hide".
Even the songs that on first glance are more modest ("The end of the night", "Stuck in rock"), are punishing in their own right, and doesn't break up the flow of the album at all. If these songs can be called fillers, what they fill is the void in your life. I can listen to this album every day, and it never fails to get me going. Never. There's a hook every second, and every single one is honest.
Which is why I must issue a word of warning: Do not be intimidated by the nonsensical Kiss-associations on the band page. Kiss was a pathetic circus act, so far below Sword's level of destruction, it's not even funny.
And then we got Rick Hughes. This guy is one of the most underhyped singers in history, if not THE most (I'd count him in my personal top 10 without a shadow of a doubt). He is 100% power, attitude and humanity every given moment. This without resorting to vocal bullying a la Blackie Lawless, who puts his voice at the forefront of the mix, and bases every song around it. Not so here. Hughes doesn't have to, he just summons the thunder from the bottom of his lungs and effortlessly rises to the required level - and stays there. The interplay between vocals and guitars is PERFECT, neither mixed above the other, allowing both to excel all the time.
Are you old, fat and bald? Got a crappy job? Your wife just left you for your dad? Your neighbours beat you up with your own grocery bags?
No matter how old and tired you think you are, "Metalized" will remind you that you are young and alive. That's why we love metal, and that's why I love this album. Over and out.
Favourite songs: "Outta control", "Where to hide", "F.T.W.", "Evil spell", "Children of heaven", "Dare to spit", and on and on. They all rule.
Track List: 01 - F.T.W. (03:47) 02 - Children Of Heaven (02:38) 03 - Stoned Again (03:35) 04 - Dare To Spit (03:52) 05 - Outta Control (03:08) 06 - The End Of The Night (03:07) 07 - Runaway (02:44) 08 - Where To Hide (03:47) 09 - Stuck In Rock (03:45) 10 - Evil Spell (04:21)