Simple, straight to the point metal.
The press biographies surrounding Trespass’ gradual re-emergence into the light have all, perhaps understandably, spent most of their words documenting the band’s late seventies/early eighties exploits, telling of a time when the band were on the same footing in the eyes of prospective record labels as Iron Maiden.
Yep, they coulda been contenders…
It’s a shame, because there’s more than enough on new album Footprints in the Rock to get a listener excited about the here and now, and not some long distant land of what might have been.
The album starts in promising meat and potatoes style with the propulsive Momentum, which uses some phrases from Maiden circa Seventh Son… to good effect, whilst Be Brave, despite a repetitive chorus also gets the blood pumping and neck muscles twitching. But the party really starts on track three, the catchy and highly impressive Mighty Love. Crashing in with an impressive dual guitar motif that Wishbone Ash would have been proud of, the song – rattling along at the same uppish mid tempo shared by the first two tracks – develops quickly into an anthemic NWoBHM pounder, driving along in the verses and really raising the stakes on the uber-melodic chorus.
Vocalist Mark Sutcliffe doesn’t have the strongest of voices – it’s a quintessential NWoBHM voice, if truth be told, slightly reedy and lacking the power and punch of the true greats, but serviceable nonetheless – but he uses what he has to full effect on tracks like this and the similarly impressive Little Star. He does have rather a good guitar technique, however, which shines through again and again throughout the album,
Prometheus isn’t as good, being a bit too similar to the opening two tracks, but the dramatic title track claws things back despite it’s main guitar figure being quite close to something – I can’t quite remember what – recorded by UK thrash merchants Onslaught many years ago… (It’s Metal Forces – slightly more observant Ed.).
Best track of the lot here is the afore-mentioned Little Star. For a start it doesn’t pitch in at the same pace as everything else thus far on the album, preferring instead to open with a nice Schenkeresque solo from Sutcliffe before building into a jagged yet melodic mini-epic. The closing minute, full of who-ohs and superb soloing once again brings to mind Iron Maiden, but this band have been at it for just as long so why the hell not? All up it’s rather a splendid piece of work whatever the band’s vintage, and I’m sure you’ll love it.
The Green Man has pretensions to greatness too, with it’s Jethro Tull-style subject matter and opening riffage, but it doesn’t work quite so well. Certainly not as well as the stonking Dragons in the Mist, a strident slab of Saxonesque sword n’sorcery that really sets the excitement meter pulsing with delight.
Beowulf and Grendel is similarly exciting, the guitars duelling one another almost to oblivion at songs end whilst penultimate track Weed has a dramatic, spiralling opening riff and a plangent verse vocal leading to a an assured semi-chorus that doesn’t quite hit the heights you’d hope but which holds the interest nonetheless.
Final track, the wistful Music of the Waves ends things on a downbeat, slightly sad note, a strange choice to end such a resolutely uptempo album.
The best thing about Trespass is their steadfast refusal to acknowledge that heavy metal has moved on since 1979. There are no desperate attempts at blast-beated ‘relevance’, no cod thrash stylings or gravel-throated growling to get down with 2018’s metal kids. This is heavy metal as Trespass understand it, and it sounds bloody great.
Footprints in the Rock is released by Mighty Music on January 12th