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A few years back there was a pretty heavy trend of young bands coming out with a classic heavy and speed metal sound. Most of them were from either America or England, which is understandable considering all the bands that came out of those countries back in the glory years of heavy metal. Personally I am a huge fan of this when it is done properly, but sometimes it takes a bit of work to make an album sound like it came out in 1987. I never really would have expected the Swedes to be joining in on all of the fun, but Air Raid is one band who has been doing a great job of paying homage to classic 80s speed metal mastery.

With their second release, Point of Impact, in 2014 its really difficult to tell that this is in fact a relatively new and young band. The album artwork of their band logo in flames flying into the earth although a bit silly, looks very much like something many bands would have done back in the day. The run time of the album at 8 tracks and at not even 35 minutes is something that many produced in the past as well. I really have no complaints against a relatively short album as it is one that doesn't mess around and kicks you right in the face with its intensity. One of the biggest problems that most bands have run into when trying to replicate some of the roots of heavy metal is production quality. They keep the modern elements of mixing and mastering an album and just try to throw in a few old schools riffs and it often doesn't come off very well. Point of Impact has a bit of a gritty analog production quality going on, but it honestly sounds remarkable.

This album has several highlights for me. The opening track “Bound to Destroy” starts off with a lot of intensity and a very memorable and aggressive riff. The vocalist sings rather cleanly throughout the song and has what I would consider to be one of the better voices in speed metal. If I had to compare him to anybody it would be the singer of Stormwitch. At the end of the song he hits a pretty amazing high note that he is able to sustain for a considerable amount of time. Also the guitar solo is very clean and calculated and it comes back with a very nice and calculated twin guitar solo very reminiscent of early Iron Maiden.

”Victim of the Night” is probably my favorite track on the album. It starts off with some rather light vocals before kicking into a pretty catchy twin guitar riff. I really can't reiterate how good their singer is though. He isn't too over the top constantly like some vocalists of the genre, but has a very clean and smooth delivery. This song almost reminds me musically of something that might have fit in on Dokken's debut album, only with a really impressive twin guitar solo instead of just a lone axe attack. The melodic aspect of this band is very reminiscent of many of their bands from their homeland Sweden. This may be another reason why I like this considerable more than a lot of power/speed metal I've heard. It’s aggressive when it needs to be, but is capable of writing memorable choruses and songs in general.

”Vengeance” is probably my second favorite song on the album and the most intense. I found myself headbang pretty much five seconds into the song all the way through. This song definitely has a plethora of guitar riffs and the extra backing vocals added to the chorus helps make it probably my favorite chorus on the entire album. Once again the solos completely deliver without being overly sloppy and uncontrolled.

Air Raid also picks the perfect song for ending an album. “We Got the Force” is very aptly named and sounds like something straight out of the mid 1980’s. Once again it kicks you right in the face with the intensity of the main guitar riff. Once again the vocalist delivers a stellar performance. There is a very miniscule amount of vocal layering on this track that just makes the chorus that much better. One thing I've also noticed about this track is the rhythm section. Unlike a lot of bands of today the drums and bass are recorded quite audibly. They aren't triggered, there is no extra programs being used, just some very nice and raw instrumentation going on. My only real complaint about this song is that for the final track I would have loved for it to have ended on a really high sustained note, but it just kind of abruptly ends.

Honestly I wasn't expecting that much out of this, since I haven't always been the biggest fan of some of the throwback bands. The vocalist is usually pretty uncontrolled, the solos are sloppy, and the choruses are repetitive as hell. There is seriously none of that here in any way, shape, or form. Although I usually complain about a short run time on an album, I honestly feel like 35 minutes is very appropriate for Point of Impact and it probably would have suffered had they thrown a couple more filler songs on it just to fill space. I very much look forward to hearing more from these guys. This album was a very pleasant surprise. If I had to rate it it'd easy get a 9 out of 10.

Adam Phillips, HMS

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