Herman Frank – Loyal to None – 5/5
The first solo album of the legendary Herman Frank (Accept, Saeko, Victory, Hazzard), teaming up with fellow German legends Pichl (Running Wild) on bass, Schwarzman (Accept, Running Wild, Helloween) fronting the drumming attack and the sublime vocals of Parcharidis (Victory), this concludes a line-up of heavy metal titans that could only end in something spectacular, or a dreadful simple reminiscence of the glory days. Whilst I must confess, I was expecting the latter – as seems so common with such line-ups – but from that very first riff, soaring vocal line and pounding drum beat they have shocked me, surpassing all expectations I had of them. Its not often something comes along and blows me away, but this has succeeded in doing just that.
As you might expect the guitars themselves have a notable presence, performing superbly with the bass work to provide a hard-hitting aggressive heavy metal rhythm, it is the solos where he really excels. Performing as though he still has something to prove, this is possibly some of the best work I’ve heard him produce, hurtling headlong into a climactic groove, soaring and addictive with a variety and pace proving once again why he is revered. Throughout all this is the bass performing far more than your basic beat, providing addictive riffs to complement the rest of the instrumentation throughout.
Even the drums don’t let up, prominent in all their hard hitting explosive glory, furiously pounding, and constantly adding subtle varieties to the beats being performed his talents feel overshadowed by the wealth of talent surrounding him, but is heard giving it his all. The vocalist – the only one I didn’t really know about here – keeps up the high standard with an aggressive rasped unique tone, soaring above the instrumentation to deliver emotional yet addictive chorus lines, with plenty of power he cements his place as an equal to the classics.
It’s been a while since I’ve even considered referring to something as ‘perfect,’ but ill be damned if this doesn’t fit the bill. Forget your pretentious ballads or long epics, this album proves you can satisfy both conditions and still deliver balls-to-the-wall German precision, with plenty of variety in the pace it retains an unrelenting quality throughout its 45 minute length. It may have taken him almost 30 years to get around to his own solo project, but he hasn’t reached his ‘sell by date’ by any stretch of the imagination. Here’s to hoping the next one comes a lot sooner.
Highlights: Moon II, Heal Me, Hero, Bastard Legions