Eliminator is obviously a great name for a heavy metal band; so great in fact, that a quick search on Google brings up no less than six bands on the first page, and none of them are country and western duos. The one we’re interested in here is a five-piece retro-metal outfit based in Lancaster, UK. Their debut EP was released in 2011 and was followed by singles and demos , but their first full album didn’t appear until 2018’s Last Horizon. They’re now punching their way out of the speakers with a hard-hitting new set entitled Ancient Light, due for release in January – and what you hear will teleport you back to 1980 and the birth of the New Wave of Heavy Metal. The emphasis is on breathlessly fast, driving, high-energy numbers, but rhythm and tempo changes abound. The band makes no bones about their influences, and they are all New Wave Metal or classic rock bands – all I hear is early Iron Maiden, although I have no doubt that, whatever your cherished band of the era was, you will hear plenty of references.
I say Iron Maiden, but it’s a mash-up of Paul Di’Anno era backings, with Bruce Dickinson-style vocal phrasing. Not that front man Danny Foster’s style is that similar to Dickinson’s, it’s just that Foster’s high, clear and fluid scream is about as far from Di’Anno’s earthy, guttural snarl as it’s possible to get. Japanese band Exciter is name-checked in their list of influences, and I think the vocal style, and the consistently rapid-fire hard rock come from that direction – there are no Prodigal Sons or Remember Tomorrows in this set.
The previous album was not conceived as a concept piece, but kind of came out that way, with a dystopian sci-fi feel. The new one though, has been intended that way from the start, as the band says in its news pages: “Ancient Light has a consistent theme and story to the whole record – It’s about entropy and the cyclical nature of the concept of time. We have recurring lyrical themes and characters throughout the record.”
I have to admit, I’m not totally sure about the mix, especially at the beginning of the album – on opening number Arrival, both vocals and lead guitar seem to be somewhat sunken in the morass, with rhythm guitars a bit overbearing. It sorts itself out later on though, unless the listener just gets his ear in, as it were. The second track, Silent Stone with its rumbling bass intro, is also the album’s lead single; a good choice I think, as its “Something is pulling me back to the waking world” vocal hook is one of the memorable highlights of the set.
The title track slows the tempo just slightly, although it would still seem fast in any other company, but then Goddess Of Life matches a slower overall tempo with a frenetic rhythm guitar line, which mercifully pauses for breath with periodic slower sections. The mix really starts to come together with The Sculptor And The Stone Lady, the album highlight for this reviewer. Everything gets thrown at it, including a quick bit of flamenco of all things, followed by tasteful strumming on an acoustic 12-string, but also a complex, proggy structure and finger-tapping soloing, building to some classic metal riffage later on. It’s a real tour de force in fact, and shows that the boys aren’t just in it for the adrenalin.
Lord Of Sleep, Dreamaster, which is all one track name, (feel free to discuss the correct spelling of ‘Dreamaster’), is followed by The Library and the hooky Mercy, but the next real highlight is Foreverless at track nine, featuring some military snare work and more Spanish guitar. The chordage is about as classic metal as it gets, with some great vocal themes, like the metaphysical “Death itself will die”, and stuff like that. It also changes to a slow rock rhythm about a minute from the end, which makes a change in this set. Final track The Nightmare Of Aeon reminds me of Sale Of The Century for some reason, but fortunately no one below about the age of 50 is likely to notice. More of a slow burner, the downbeat, thudding rhythm and jangly, bell-like guitars form an extended intro, but then we’re back to the hard, heavy, classic metal to round off the set.
If you like your metal soft, melodic and spandex-based, then it’s probably not for you, to be fair. But if you hanker for the buzz of hard-driving, fast-flying, high-screaming heavy rock with a bit of fantasy thrown in, then you’re getting warm.
Eliminator’s new album Ancient Light will be released on January 14th 2022 through Cherry Red Records