It seems that old school heavy metal revival is in full swing in Sweden. Bands such as Enforcer, and VOJD (formerly Black Trip) have grown their fanbase considerably since their humble beginnings, and even legendary musicians have gone on to worship the old school through projects like The Dagger. Since 2001, this has been the modus operandi of Bullet, and this year the band drops their sixth full-length album, Dust to Gold, after a four year wait.
The first time I encountered Bullet was with their 2014 release Storm of Blades, after going on about The Dagger‘s debut in the same year, and Enforcer‘s Death By Fire a year earlier (which admittedly, took me quite a while to digest and get hooked on). Each of the bands presented different tributes to various styles of old school heavy metal, with Enforcer taking on a speed metal approach, and The Dagger a more hard rock, Deep Purple-esque style. Bullet on the other hand manages to strike a nice balance between the two similar, yet rather vastly different styles, resulting in a release that is catchy as fuck, yet stands out from their compatriots.
With Dust to Gold, the band continues in their musical direction. Album opener brings back the familiar screechy vocals of Hell Hofer, that sounds like a cross between the screams of Rob Halford and the soprano of King Diamond. Immediately one is brought back to the glory days of 80s heavy metal, and the riffs that guitarists Alexander and Hampus unleash easily reminds us of the work of bands like Judas Priest, or more recently, White Wizzard. Every element that is included on the album screams old school, from the hard-hitting drums, to the duelling lead guitar solos, or the gang-shouts on songs like Highway Love. The inclusiveness of their musical influences even includes Black Sabbath and their titular Heaven and Hell on the title track, easily discernible through the Tony Iommi-inspired riffs, and Geezer Butler-esque bass lines. Hell, even the rather simple and cheesy lyrical themes on the aforementioned track, or opener Speed and Attack fit so well with the accompanying music that one can’t help but find himself grinning at the, erm, cheesiness.
While the material on Dust to Gold mostly sounds similar to what the band has put out thus far, they have seem to toned down a little bit in the speed department, and most tracks on the album take on a mid-pace. This isn’t to say that the music isn’t any less entertaining, as the band still manages to include catchy hooks with ease in their writing, though perhaps including a ballad would have made Dust to Gold a perfect old-school tribute album. If you love and miss the old school of Judas Priest, Loudness, with the swagger of Motörhead, Dust to Gold is one record that should not be missed.