Ross the Boss (Ross Friedman) was one of the founding members of metal kings MANOWAR (also a founding member of punk act THE DICTATORS). He left the group after 1988’s Kings of Metal and has worked on many other projects such as DEATH DEALER. Nowthe Ross the Boss band are now releasing their fourth offering titled Born of Fire, which is a twelve track album clocking in at fourty five minutes and twenty four seconds.
Album opener Glory to the Slain dives straight in, no grandiose openings here just a full-on frontal metal assault.
As soon as second track I Am The Sword begins, you want to grab your charger and thunder into a cavalry charge across the battlefield. It is a blistering Heavy Metal Thrash attack on the senses. The vocals utilised here are a far step away from the music made by Ross in MANOWAR, it is more primal and aggressive whilst still able to utilise high vocals for effect.
Fight The Fight instantly conjures visuals of a massive pit breaking out at a live concert. Lyrics “Fight the fight, never lose sight, we are the chosen, rise up and fight!” also gives you a sense of purpose to just be yourself rather than follow the norm and conform.
Shotgun Evolution continues the style utilised earlier in the album but employs a more melodic guitar style throughout intertwined with the speed metal shredding. The solo partway through the song reminds me of a psychotic waltz falling somewhere along the lines of IRON MAIDEN clashing head on with RAGE.
Denied By The Cross is an instant headbanging classic (a good single choice too!). It channels all the unholy forces of the underworld in the style of very early Thrash riff wise. Open up the pit for this one!
Maiden Of Shadows is the second single release of the album and follows a more Power Metal style compared to the earlier tracks. This is reminiscent of HELLOWEEN and JUDAS PRIEST whilst also using some Symphonic touches and choired harmonies.
The title track Born of Fire has a really catchy chorus that one can imagine a legion of fans singing along to at live performances amidst all of the headbanging and air guitar “I am born of fire, burning desire.”
Demon Holiday channels elements of Ross’s former bands with visual imagery of demons, sword and sorcery and sheer brilliance.
I instantly love how God Killer starts, it’s a lot of fun and has a nice use of vocal range from high to low gutturals with the aggression channelled throughout the album.
Waking the Moon starts with a wolf howl and instantaneous guitar solo. It appeals to my inner horror fan straight away. This is due to the werewolf imagery channelled through the lyrics “endless hunger, burns inside, wake the moon I cannot hide. Beast within, consumes my soul, out for blood, I’m wanting more” and features a pounding bass solo. Ross is certainly on full form delivering a primal forced guitar solo, this is a song of epic proportions.
The elements of Undying would not be out of place on Battle Hymns orany of the classic albums that Ross was part of. Yet this is a much more developed musician at work here.
The Blackest Heart slows the pace down a little whilst keeping the heavy metal themes and is the “ballad” of the album per say. It is a fitting track of which to bring the album to a close. I really enjoy the old vinyl “crackle” sound used in the intro and outro. Unbeknownst to me, one does not understand why Ross Friedman is not acclaimed as one of the best guitarists of all time. There is some serious guitar-play at work and the divulgence of styles and sounds throughout this album are fine examples of this. Alongside how diverse this is from previous compositions. Yet still harnesses the energy from songs that we all know and enjoy.
Ross is more than just the Boss; with this release he has reclaimed his throne, and long may he reign!
Words: Martin White
Born Of Fire will be unleashed on 6th March 2020 via AFM Records.
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