ELM STREET – Knock ‘Em Out… With A Metal Fist
OUT 24th July 2016
ELM STREET line up:
Ben Batres | Rhythm Guitar/Vocals
Aaron Adie | Lead Guitar
Nick Ivkovic | Bass
Tomislav Perkovic | Drums
When Melbourne based Elm Street’s latest offering landed on my desk I took one look at the album artwork and laughed at its ridiculous fantasy style, favoured by so many metal bands, a cross between Manowar and Judas Priest for all out cheesiness. I instantly knew I was going to like what was inside. First impressions are sometimes the best.
As soon as the acoustic intro to the opening track ‘Face The Reaper’ struck up, I smiled as it brought back memories of my first hearing of Metallica’s intro to ‘Fight Fire With Fire’ and had me leaning forward in anticipation of what was about to come. The track built beautifully, starting with soft acoustic guitars and adding bass, drums and electricity (okay, beautiful isn’t the best description for what was happening, but in a purely heavy metal sense it was). Once the song hits full flight it’s a beautiful battering ram smashing into your ears, through your brain and blowing out the back of your head. Ben Bates guttural scream of REAPER! is almost perfect.
Once ‘Reaper’ got the pulse up the next track and first single ‘Kiss The Canvas’ really had the blood pumping. It’s a perfectly brutal track, with Bates vocals ear-bleedingly good. That’s not even the best of it, with Nick Ivkovic’s bass runs reminding you of everything that is good in a metal song.
The one thing that immediately stands out on the record is the production, as the boys from Elm Street have once again called on the talents of Systematic Productions guru Ermin Hamidovic (who also twiddled the knobs on 2011’s Barbed Metal Wire). The mix is as good as any I have ever heard, not just in an Australian metal release but any metal album full stop!
Just about each of the 10 tracks on this album deserve their own stand alone review, such is the quality. Tomislav Perkovic’s skin beating is sublime, mixing straight out metal drumming with blindly fast double kicks and delicious fills. Nothing is overdone and everything just falls perfectly into pace. The same can be said for the riff work of Ben Bates and Aaron Adie. The pair work together effortlessly. Bates’ crunching rhythm gallops on relentlessly with Adie’s lead work intertwined throughout. The way the pair work together to create what is exceptional music is showcased on the longest and a standout track for me ‘Blood Diamond’. Coming in at just under 12 minutes it’s never going to get radio airplay, but it should be, over and over again, really fucking loud! The whole band shines on this track, showing influences from the best the likes of Iron Maiden or Metallica have to offer.
This is an album that proudly shows where the influences lay without falling into the trap of blatantly ripping them off, a mistake so many new bands make. Crossing the line between influence an imitation, Elm Street don’t make that mistake. They’ve carved a sound of their own, yet are still instantly recognisable as an 80’s/90’s influenced thrash band.
There’s no reinventing the wheel here, just face punching good heavy metal.
I’ve heard and reviewed some great music this year and I’ve yet to give anyone a perfect score. That is about to change.
I’m giving Knock ‘Em Out… With A Metal Fist 10 out of 10.
Knock ‘Em Out… With A Metal Fist track listing
- Face The Reaper
- Kiss The Canvas
- Will It Take A Lifetime
- Heavy Mental
- Next In Line
- Heart Racer
- Blood Diamond
- Leave It All Behind