Attacker – The God Particle Review

New Jersey’s Attacker have a decades-long history but seem to exist in perpetual near-obscurity outside of the Tri-State area. Hitting the scene in 1985 with their Battle at Helm’s Deep debut, they were a part of the US power metal scene along with contemporaries Helstar, Liege Lord, and Jag Panzer. As with others in that movement, they blended Judas Priest and Iron Maiden influences with amped-up speed. The debut went on to become a minor cult classic largely due to the “unusual” vocals of then frontman Bob Mitchell,1 but they missed the boat to greater success due to costly delays in releasing the follow-up platter. They were inactive through the 90s and didn’t drop another album until 2004s Soul Taker, and by then most of their original fanbase was long gone. Since then, however, they’ve refitted and released a series of hard-hitting platters full of trve/classic metal glory with 2013s Giants of Canaan and 2016’s Sins of the World being especially potent. After another momentum-killing layoff, Attacker return with seventh album The God Particle. Will this be the fateful release that finally sees Weehawken, New Jersey’s finest getting greater exposure?

I’ll say this for The God Particle: if it dropped in the 80s I would’ve eaten it up like beer-battered bacon. Thanks to the over-the-top efforts of NJ vocal legend Bobby “Leather Lungs” Lucas (Reverend, ex-Overlorde, ex-Seven Witches), the material sounds like a long-lost Helstar opus and that’s something Steel doesn’t take lightly. The album is a high-octane ode to 80s metal with 2 spiked fists in the air and a “Fuck you!” attitude that only a New Jersey band could deliver this forcefully. Opener “Knights of Terror” comes out swinging with crunchy riffs and in-your-face energy as Bobby rages and screams like a youthful James Rivera mixed with Ronny Munroe. It’s a propulsive construct sure to anger up the blood. “Curse of Creation” sounds like a collaboration between Nevermore and early days Metal Church with Bobby approaching David Wayne levels of vocal hysteria. Michael Benetatos and new slinger Jon Hasselbrink go wild with beefy riffs and wild flourishes and the energy is nigh irresistible. “River of Souls” is a straight-up sledgehammer aimed at your soft melon. It reads like a dialed-up version of trve metal, with churning riffs paving the road and Bobby L. screaming out the work orders like a manic supervisor. It’s not subtle or forward-thinking but it works.

“Kingdom of Fire” is the most Helstar-esque number, sounding like something off their timeless Nosferatu opus and I enjoy the relentlessly churning, urgent riffage teamed with Bobby’s larger-than-life vocals. There’s even some tasty Maiden-adjacent guitar noodling for extra nostalgia-spice. “World in Flames” is another restraint-free burner and I can see this one being wild in a live setting. There are no bad tracks, and though “Stigmatized” can be awkward at times, it’s a fun, bruising slice of adrenalized machismo. At a svelte 33 minutes, The God Particle is all muscle and connective tissue. The songs all slot in the 3-4 minute window ensuring none overstay their welcome. That said, most of the songs dwell in the “good but not quite very good” neighborhood. The album is a fun rampage through the past but unlikely to blow your mind and it likely won’t end up your Album o’ the Year. It’s meat and potatoes throwback metal with balls and a bad attitude and as such, it’s an entertaining spin.

Attacker may only have one original member left in drummer Mike Sabatini, but he’s done a fine job assembling a skilled cast of characters to help him keep the band going. Michael Benetatos and Jon Hasselbrink are very able six-stringers and bring all the heavy metal thunder to the music with a riff bonanza ripped from the 80s and 90s. There’s a healthy dose of classic sounds mixed with speed and they’re clearly having blast ripping it up. When you bring in Bobby Lucas to do vocals, you put a particular time stamp on the material. He’s an old-fashioned metal rager who goes all in, bouncing between Halfordisms, Dickinsonisms and screaming like a Jersey Devil who just stepped on a burning LEGO. He’s good at what he does, but he can overdo things and become grating. For the most part, though, he does a fine job and brings a cosmic shit-ton of energy to the compositions.

I grew up with Attacker (minus the times they abandoned me like some deadbeat dad) and I’ll always have a soft spot for them. When they’re around they make it easy to support them by continuing to churn out metal high in purity and low on frills and trends. The God Particle is another solid slab of 99.9% unadulterated NJ metal and it makes me wish these guys would get on a more reliable visitation schedule. Pairs well with cheap beer and medical waste.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Cruz Del Sur
Websites: | |
Releases Worldwide: April 12th, 2024

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