2016 : No Remorse Records
Format : LP / CD
Cut to late teens Jeff, driving a tanker truck, working insane hours hauling water to drilling rigs in the Sahara-like heat of the West Texas oilfields. You’d get about 30 minutes of downtime with each loading and unloading of water, so most of us read. We’d swap books among ourselves, a sort of trucker currency. I traded some generic softcore Western (yes, those exist) for a tattered copy of an interesting looking Fantasy novel, Elric of Melniboné by Michael Moorcock. I immediately devoured everything I could get my hands on, scouring second hand book stores on the rare day off. I was a man obsessed. Once I’d finished the Elric saga, I discovered he was a facet of Moorcock’s Eternal Champion. So as you can imagine, by name alone, my interest was piqued.
EC consists of members of several Austin, TX area Metal bands playing a variety of styles: drummer Arthur Rizk and guitarist Nujon Powers of Summerlands & War Hungry, vocalist Jason Tarpey of Iron Age, Guitarist Carlos Llanas of Funeral Ash, and Blake Ibanez of the Crossover powerhouse, that unless you’ve been living under a very large rock have heard of by now, Power Trip. EC sounds like none of those (Summerlands comes close), but brings in the best elements of all. This is what the kids call today, “Epic Heavy Metal”, and what we old fucks used to call “Heavy Metal”. This is firmly entrenched in the Manilla Road, Cirith Ungol, Brocas Helm school, with elements of early Priest, classic Maiden and a pinch of DIO. And rising up through the ranks with contemporaries like Visigoth and Stone Dagger. Pretty much everything that’s great about Metal in one tidy package.
Against my better judgement, I read through some internet comments regarding this album. Smattered amongst the praise were comments about “cheese” and my personally favorite, “how is this sound relevant now?”. Son, if that’s a question you have to ask, please leave the hall and hang your drinking horn at the door. This style of Metal is what made the genre what it is today. None of the others would exist without it. And it’s not like this is some Gods awful retro sound. This never went anywhere. Sure, it’s wavered in popularity, and at the risk of sounding like that guy, it’s groups like Eternal Champion that are the torch-bearers of all that is true. How’s that for relevance?
Released by Greek label No Remorse in variety of editions: 100 on red vinyl, 400 on black, CD and an insane limited to 100 box set that included a poster, t-shirt, patch, gold vinyl LP, CD and cassette. That one was exclusive to the Keep It True festival this past April in Germany. If anyone wants to gift me a copy, just let me know… I’d also being doing you a disservice, dear reader, if I didn’t mention vocalist Jason Tarpey is also a blacksmith and owner of Hammerhall Forge.
Forged in Fire, it doesn’t get more Metal than that….