We’ll get straight to the point. Final Sign’s Hold High The Flame is the kind of debut record that demands you sit up and take notice; a full-on stomp down familiar paths – a path admittedly well trodden for nigh on 3 decades now – but with enough grit, full-throated hollering and blazing riffs to warrant immediate attention!
Vocalist Shawn Pelata is the driving force at work here, his impressive vocals taking centre-stage and recalling the nerve-shattering power of Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens during his days with Iced Earth. Frontmen with lungs like his come along once in a blue moon but fortunately Final Sign are also well equipped in the muso stakes too.
“Possessor” possesses a whip-crack thrash attack that recalls the gonzoid approach of prime Overkill and Kreator, while the mid-tempo groove of “Burn The Temple Down” is a power metal classic in the making; pure class affixed with huge hooks, bigger choruses and riffs that bring a wall of sound crashing down around your ears. The remaining 6 tracks are no slouch either, culminating in a pure metal experience for those who like their music hard, fast and in thrall to the classics.
Traditional metal/power metal/speed metal, call Final Sign what you will. What is fundamentally apparent is that this band are not here to merely make up the numbers, they are looking to take the crown shared by the likes of Primal Fear, Helloween (at their heaviest) and Iced Earth. Final Sign positively bleed integrity, old-school ethics and song writing expertise that is second to none and are so brazenly metal, it’s as if a hulking barbarian (perhaps the same brute that adorns the impressive artwork) is inserting a painfully large broadsword so far up your bottom that you can taste the steel!
Hold High The Flame is metal for stubborn souls; an 80’s referencing exercise that should please the old-guard faithful while also capturing the attention of traditional metal inductees alike. A tricky balancing act but one mastered by Final Sign. 8/10