Victory – Gods Of Tomorrow (Album Review)

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Hard rocking classics never die.

Herman Frank has been one of the busiest men in the business of late, fielding three impressive albums in the early 2010s with Accept and still finding time to put out nearly double that amount under his own name in a somewhat more aggressive and modernized package. But what some newer arrivals to his still growing fan base is that neither of these recent bouts of activity have involved his original flagship project, namely the iconic 80s metal meets hard rock outfit Victory. Though throughout the 80s well into the 2000s this band that had originally been born out of the ashes of the 1970s rock band Fargo had been quite prolific, recruiting no less than Human Fortress vocalist Jioti Parcharidis into its ranks for a couple of albums during the latter years of this period, a 10 year period of studio silence would ensue after 2011’s “Don’t Talk Silence” in favor of the two aforementioned projects, leaving some to speculate that maybe the days of Victory had ultimately passed into history.

While still actively putting out impressive feats of modern metal mayhem with his solo project, the cessation of his activity with Accept left the door open for a return to the studio for the band that has occupied most of Herman’s career, and with a new lineup in two, 2021’s “Gods Of Tomorrow” proves an apt title for the final result. Fully embracing all of the bells and whistles of present day hard rock practices, these songs feature a crunchy guitar tone and loud yet mostly dry production quality that resembles what George Lynch and Michael Sweet have been doing on various projects of late. The recruitment of The Order vocalist Gianni Pontillo makes perfect sense within this context, as his gravely, smoky, Coverdale like tone is fairly close to the one that Parcharidis brought to the last two albums and even comes off as a slightly less abrasive rendition of Rick Altzi’s signature sound, bringing a needed level of familiarity into the equation and also matching the dirty demeanor of the rest of the arrangement.

Even when referring back to this project’s earliest offerings in the mid-1980s, they’ve always walked a tightrope between hard rock and heavy metal, and even with the blaring modernity that comes streaming out of the present day incarnation of this band’s sound, this continues to be the case. Sometimes it comes in the form of songs that move back and forth between the two from one section to the next, such as the bombastic mid-paced anthem “Mad”, which largely leans on an AOR vibe with a pop-like chorus hook to boot, but also features a principle guitar riff that screams 80s “Screaming For Vengeance” era Judas Priest about as loudly as could be. At others, the metallic flavor takes over complete, as on the speed-infused anthem “Into The Light”, which could be construed as a shorter and punchier answer to Iron Maiden’s “Two Minutes To Midnight”, as well as the chunky grooves of “On Fire”, which sees Herman reverting back to his Accept days in the riff department, not to mention sporting some riveting lead guitar work.

Nevertheless, there are plenty of elements at play here that lean into the hard rock paradigm about as blatantly as a typical Guns ‘N’ Roses or Def Leppard tune. Case and point, the extended introduction and groovy banger “Love Hate”, which is so heavily steeped in bluesy rock territory that it begs the question why Pontillo, who does an exemplary job of bringing some gritty soul into the equation, doesn’t just bust out a harmonic solo just prior to Herman tearing up the fret board with his wah pedal going full blast. Likewise, even the speedy metallic bluster of the title track “Gods Of Tomorrow” seems to progress in a fashion similar to a standard blues structure and is peppered with even more wah pedal-steeped pentatonic noodling that carries more of a hard rock on speed swagger. Throw in a few more overtly bluesy rocking numbers such as the sing-along romp “Cut To The Bone” and the mid-tempo sway of “Hold On To Me” and it gets even trickier to tell where the rock ends and the metal begins.

At the end of the day, it’s a somewhat mixed up but ultimately strong showing from one of the most seasoned names in the business. It may prove to be more of a nod to the rocking 70s and the hair obsessed 80s wrapped up in a 2020s package, but it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to see those who are more in line with the classic metallic meat of Accept and Judas Priest enjoy these songs, particularly those that enjoy their meal with a tall side of guitar god seasoning. That’s really the primary draw of this album; Herman Frank has a way of merging in and out of the arrangement and hitting notes that cut in like a knife through butter. It’s a step up from the highly mixed affair that was “Don’t Talk Science”, though it’s probably not as thrilling of a ride as Frank’s latest solo album “Two For A Lie” if metal is more agreeable to one’s pallet than rock. There are no overtly weak songs to speak of, but the way things seesaw back and forth makes for a somewhat disjointed listen for those who don’t like skipping around, like titans of the future constantly stumbling back into the past

Released By: AFM Records
Release Date: November 26th, 2021
Genre: Hard Rock

Musicians:

  • Gianni Pontillo/ Vocals
  • Herman Frank / Guitars
  • Mike Pesin / Guitars
  • Malte Frederik Burkert / Bass
  • Michael Stein / Drums

“Gods Of Tomorrow” Track-Listing:

  1. Intro
  2. Love & Hate
  3. Gods Of Tomorrow
  4. Cut To The Bone
  5. Dying In Your Arms
  6. Hold On To Me
  7. Into The Light
  8. Mad
  9. Unconditional Love
  10. My Own Desire
  11. On Fire
  12. Rising Force
  13. In Rock We Trust
  14. Leave You Alone

7.9 Great

Following 10 years of studio silence in the wake of his recent return stint with Accept and his ongoing solo efforts, Herman Frank’s original flagship project and long-running hard rock meets heavy metal icon Victory returns with a fresh lineup and coat of paint to match

  • Songwriting 8
  • Musicianship 8.5
  • Originality 7.5
  • Production 7.5
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