Renowned for their New Wave Of British Heavy Metal classics “Heavy Metal Mania” and, of course, the ubiquitous “The Small Hours”, its been over 12 years since head Holocaust honcho John Mortimer last released an album and Predator is a welcome return for metal classicists.
At once, warmly nostalgic – there’s a lot to be said for modern metal albums that simply let rip with quality songwriting, ostentatious riffs and a sure-footed understanding that the rulebook doesn’t need rewriting every time a band releases a record – Predator also retains punk’s urgency and attitude; the sound of the UK underground as embodied in the late 70’s and early 80’s funnelled through a modern framework.
These songs are often unwaveringly dark and ominous, threatening to unleash fire and brimstone but still elevated by moments and passages of uplifting melody. “Lady Of Babylon” particularly evokes this sense of conflicting forces, hitting hard with an opening riff salvo that rumbles and unnerves like sheet lightning before skies clear and an open and almost translucent prog-esque interlude meanders its way back round to a thundering close. The title track is just as memorable. A song we first heard in a live setting at last years Wildfire Festival in Holocaust’s native Scotland, “Predator” remains just as bruising – yet alluringly melodic – on record as it was when blasted from the stage.
Throughout proceedings, John Mortimer’s voice can hardly be described as flawless but it is authentic, natural, believable and, at times, akin to Jaz Coleman’s unholy roar; biblical and hair-raising in equal measure. No better is this reflected than on the monster that is “Revival”. A stripped raw, 80’s post punk/new wave invoking Killing Joke-esque march through UK metal history, “Revival” is an album highlight that’s matched by the equally devastating “Shiva”; rib-cage-rattling vocals adding grit to the already lead-heavy riffing and satisfyingly stompy rhythm section supplied by Scott Wallace and Mark McGrath.
Prime fodder for the NWOBHM fanboys and girls but backed by enough individuality to entice newcomers, Holocaust’s recorded return is indeed a welcome one. Just don’t leave it 12 years until the next one eh! 8/10