Under Attack is a heavy metal band from Italy, founded in 2018, in the style of Saxon, Ozzy, Dio or Judas Priest. All fans of the above will thoroughly enjoy this!
The core of the band is duo Daniele Sciacca handling vocals, with multi instrumentalist Nando Bonini on guitar, bass and drums. For this album, they’re also joined by chitarrista Fabio Rossi (Italian for guitarist), who as well as providing some tasty riffs is also managing the overall production side of things. Fabio is an 80’s music lover and respected across Italy for his collaborations with black metal band Tryglav and freelance studio musician for many European bands. Nando is another well-known Italian session man, known for having been the guitarist in the band Lux Mundi Lux Mundi and for his work with Vasco Rossi both live and in the studio until 2005. He’s also been in countless other collaborations, to the extent that his nickname in Italian music circles is “Mister Metal”!
Virus Alert is the debut album for Under Attack (no wonder, given all their side projects!). Daniele is the main composer for the band, and it’s fair to say it’s his imagination that has spawned this work. Virus Alert is described as a concept album set in a dystopian future but as it happens NOT concerning the Coronavirus. Instead, it views themes that are all mirrored in the current world climate – the danger derived from a society where finance dominates within a world where mass manipulation techniques increasingly prevail. In this struggle for power, Daniele sees made manifest all the wickedness that can inhabit man. It’s a bleak Orwellian and apocalyptic world, in which the war for oppression occurs above all on an economic and social all-out basis. Evil seems to have the upper hand but as the album progresses the songs give a glimpse of a supernatural intervention that will stop the madness of evil and self-destruction forever. To fully capture the concept in the album cover and in the graphics, Under Attack brought in Gianni Nakos, a well-respected Italian artist and author of numerous covers for important European bands such as Evergrey.
All this sounds fairly doomy, and you could be forgiven for expecting some heavyweight walls of sound such as on Dawnwalker’s Ages, which tackles a similar future. You would be mistaken however!
The lyrics do indeed describe the ongoing battles raging, as per 70’s-style semi-spoken concept albums. But the music is bang up to date, typically driven along by some seriously chugging riffs and a metronomic rhythm section, interspersed by some stellar licks – sit back and enjoy!
The opening track Soldier sets the scene lyrically and musically, driven by a pacey thumping riff with a bridge of lovely lead guitar, short but very sweet! Stylistically it’s quite derivative, no real boundaries being broken – but its performed by very accomplished musicians and it’s a nice little slab of power-rock. Ready For Escape sweeps in with a fast ear-worm of a riff, the song is winding you up for the warring protagonists and setting you up for a metal-led but melodic excursion. Two really strong solos, one for Nando and one for Fabio cement what is a really tight band performance.
Secret Plan is a wonderful classic riff, that and the chorus are straight out of early Sabbath and other 70’s heavyweights like Heep. And although the vocals are different you can well imagine Ozzy or the late great David Byron getting stuck into this with gusto! There’s a fantastic solo rounding it off, it’s three and a half minutes of absolutely classic headbanging – I love this!
The Rules opens with a chanted lyric that could be Yes introducing I’ve Seen All Good People! Some great twin guitar work then ensues, on top of the ever-present chugga-chugga riff. It’s a well arranged track, my only slight concern is the slightly muddy soundmix for the rhythm section, and the keys could do with being higher up in the mix as well. Another satisfyingly accessible slab of 80s rock though, possibly the best combination of guitar work on the album. This song was actually chosen as the ‘lead track’ of an EP the band released last year, and you can see why.
Beyond The Sea is another heavy number, underpinned with a beautiful bass line and chopping chords. It’s a lovely tune, emphasised by powerhouse 80’s riffs and solos, very tasty! It definitely feels like a tribute to the great metal bands of the 80’s – and there ain’t nothing wrong with that! Lyrically, the song is inspired by the depths of the sea and works as a metaphor for the trials and tribulations of life, it is a shout-out for never giving up in the face of adversity.
Under Attack was perhaps the hardest track on the album for the band, it was moreorless the first song Daniele had composed, but needed considerable reworking – never easy. Probably the most overtly Metal track on the album, very Judas Priest.
The Sign And The Cross is an interesting composition. Acoustic guitars and twin lead electrics sweep in with an almost balladic style, overlaid with multi-layered echoing vocals and building gradually. It’s an anthemic, throbbing number with religious overtones, drawing on the prophecies in the Book of Revelations, presaging the end of time in an epic and apocalyptic groove. All good stuff!
The Last War kicks off as it means to continue, a whopper of an 80’s riff with some tasty licks curling around it. A great booming bass line echoes around your head in this one, followed by some soaring, all-too-short solo work. Another very tuneful and pacey number, you can imagine a sea of heads loving this anthem live!
The End Of The Road is the album’s closing track, and designed to complete the story. Musically it has big echoes of Bon Jovi and Saxon, a massive driving riff pulsing throughout, and a gorgeous, extended solo swirling in the air. It’s a great driving song, it conjures up that sense of onward motion, radio on, panoramas rolling past…are we hurtling towards our doom, or is this a subtly upbeat ending? The song speaks of ruins and destroyed cities, but also of rebirth……
I really enjoyed this album, I’d never heard of any of the players beforehand but all the tracks flowed effortlessly around my head in a meaty but melodic chord-fest, there’s some fizzin’ solo swirls, some piledriver riffs, a rhythm section that never misses a beat, strong vocals – the whole is a teensy bit derivative but I’m certainly not complaining, it’s a great tribute to a shoal of 80’s heavy metal bands and I could happily listen to a lot more by these guys. None of the songs are massively long and the album is over before you know it! A little more crispness in the sound-mix would have been nice but I’m not complaining at this surprising treat of top-notch guitar work!