Out Now

(Nuclear Blast)

Searching for some pure, unadulterated, aggressive heavy metal? Look no further than Fatal Command, a record that comes at you like a flailing bullet belt, an album that wears its Accept and Judas Priest patches with pride, an opus which is shot through with molten riffs and class musicianship.

The follow up to The German Pänzer’s Send Them All To Hell (they’ve dropped the ‘German’ to acknowledge their multi-national line-up), Fatal Command is led from the front by Destruction’s Schmier, and arguably betters his main band’s last effort, Under Attack, in terms of quality songwriting. And while Herman Frank may have departed last year, his replacements – Swiss six stringer V.O. Pulver and Hammerfall’s Pontus Norgren – fill the gap admirably. Indeed Norgren’s solos on the likes of We Can Not Be Silenced and Afflicted are dazzling, majestically weaving in and out of the torrent of metallic fury unleashed by his bandmates.

What’s also striking about Fatal Command is that – cartoonish album cover aside – this is serious stuff, taking on social and political issues and never veering into the kind of twee territory occasionally visited by so-called ‘true’ heavy metal bands. It isn’t a thrash album by any means, but the darkness of Destruction’s work does make its presence felt on songs like Satan’s Hollow.

Perhaps the slower chuggers like Stone Breaker and Scorn and Hate could have been trimmed from the final version – given that Pänzer excel at more rapid-fire fare – and Bleeding Allies sounds like it could be a Destruction out-take.

But let’s leave those as minor quibbles. For if the names Hoffman, Downing and Byford mean anything to you, Fatal Command should be in your life.