February 10, 2021

A quick journey in our time machine takes us back to Bochum in 1967 to see the formation of Faithful Breath, a band that began life as a progressive/psychedelic rock band a little similar to Eloy with the debut, Fading Beauty, eventually being released in 1974 and picking up plenty of plaudits along the way. It then took another six years for the second album to see the light of day with Back On My Hill in 1980 with a further five albums coming in a golden period that ended in 1985 with the bands last album Skol. During the journey, the band went through numerous personnel and the sound changed from a wistful early ’70s prog rock vibe to a much heavier style with a sound derived from AC/DC, Motorhead and Accept and a new look very much inspired by Viking themes. Indeed, if you took the debut and the last album and played them back to back then you would be forgiven for thinking that they were from different groups entirely. For sure, the same high quality shines through both recordings but it’s just that the direction has changed which was probably more to reflect the way that the rock world was developing in the early ’80s.

By the time that Skol came out, the band consisted of founder and leading light Heinz ‘Heimi’ Mikus on vocals and guitar, with Thilo Hermann on guitars, Peter Dell on bass and the drummer Jürgen Düsterloh who sadly passed away in 2014. On its release the general consensus was that Skol did not match the previous release, Gold ‘n’ Glory which has since been hailed as the crowing point of the band’s career. This doesn’t mean that Skol is a bad album by any means and, in my humble opinion, it’s perhaps time that Skol was re-assessed as it is a brilliant metal album with the band being hotter than the surface of the sun and with a collection of killer Accept/Scorpions type songs like We Want You and Crazy In Metal. All brilliant stadium rockers with brilliant guitar and an excellent vocal performance from the gravel voiced Heinz Mikus. They even finish off with the album title song, a typical pirate rock sea shanty/drinking song that is just so Germanic.

Sadly, though, there were issues within the band at the time of recording and Mikus has since said that this meant that the album just did not have that little spark of magic but I think he may be being just a tad too critical. Faithful Breath then followed Skol with a live album in 1986 and by 1987 it was all over as Mikus closed the band and they came back with a new identity as the metal outfit Risk.

You now have the chance to listen and decide for yourself as the album has been re-released and you are highly recommended to check it out as this is a most exciting ’80s metal album with so much to offer and I also suspect it will tempt you to check out the back catalogue too.

SKOL track list

  1. Start It Up (4:02)
  2. Double Dealer (3:34)
  3. Lady M. (2:30)
  4. Rock Rebels (3:48)
  5. We Want You (5:01)
  6. Inside Out (3:37)
  7. Crazy in Metal (4:05)
  8. Backstreet Heroes (3:35)
  9. Skol (4:42)