WHEN IT comes to metal I am unapologetically old school. When I hit play I want the riffs of a Tony Iommi, the leads of Murray/Smith or a Gorham/Robertson, and all that topped with the voice of a Bruce Dickinson or Rob Halford.
I will take that any day over the 'You can only play three power chords, guitar solos are banned, and vocalists may only scream' method which - while not the only form of metal out there - certainly seems the most dominant. Galway is lucky in having a thriving metal underground that does not play by those rules, and instead revels in, and is enhanced by its diversity - the Sabbath stoner rock of Weed Priest; the furious, dynamic, progressive Ilenkus; the Gaelic folk meets metal of Na Cruithne; and the classic metal approach of Harvester.
Harvester - Bryan Higgins (guitar ), Gavin Grealy (guitar/vocals ), Steve Loughney (bass ), Kenn Sweeney (drums ) - officially release their new album Harmonic Ruptures on Friday March 10, on both vinyl and download, via Distro-y Records, and it is an invigorating celebration of the values which underpin classic metal.
Opening track 'Summoner' bursts out of the traps all grunge riffing and Kurt Cobain vocals, concluding with fine harmony guitar work from Higgins and Grealy that tips the hat to Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden. The band should not be dismissed for showcasing their influences on this track - this is about introducing the band, and telling you where they are coming from - and it's a very inviting entry.
Harvester understand a quality metal solo has to have epic drama, be backed by a riff different from the main riff itself, and that it must avoid self-indulgence at all costs - every note must count ('The Obol' ). They also know that hammer-ons and pull-offs add colour and interest to guitar-riffs and are a near dead form, long overdue rediscovery and re-admission to playing styles ('Magnetic North' ).
On the other end of the sonic scale is 'Dimenonaut', which serves as a coda to grunge meets Lizzy of 'Lapse'. Played in waltz-time, the interplay of Higgins and Grealy's guitars produces a psychedelic, meditative, and a beautiful instrumental.
Don't see Harvester as revivalists. They have the skills and chops to be respected as fine and creative musicians and writers, who are giving fresh voice to values it will do no harm for metal to be reminded of.