Ross the Boss (real name Friedman) is no stranger to the metal scene. Almost four decades ago, alongside with Joey DeMaio formed MANOWAR, one of the principal founders of epic metal. Since then many things have changed yet the influence of early MANOWAR in heavy/epic/underground metal is undeniable.
So here is Mr. Friedman’s third album after is 2008 comeback to the metal scene, after several non heavy metal albums with the DICTATORS and other bands. Some spiteful comments would say that maybe he tries to take advantage of MANOWAR‘s latest stiffness in order to fill the gap in the fan’s appreciation. Personally speaking, even if this was true, ROSS THE BOSS has every right to do so, since it was his guitar riffs that embraced Mr. DeMaio‘s epic rhythms, therefore any skepticism is irrelevant.
So let’s cut to the chase, shall we?
Eight years have passed, since the band’s previous album “Hailstorm” and now we have a whole new line-up, which consists of the one and only Mike LePond (SYMPHONY X) on bass guitar, WITHERFALL‘s drummer Steve Bolognese and ex-MELIAH RAGE Marc Lopez on vocals. So should anyone try to think that Ross the Boss would deviate from the sound of his previous efforts, he would be proven wrong. “By blood sworn” is nothing more than an overdose of heavy metal, but let us be more specific.
The first track “By blood sworn” is an impressive tune, reminiscent of MANOWAR‘s early 80’s songs (with a total rip of “Blood of my enemies” riff) and a nice catchy chorus followed by quicker tunes where Mr. Ross tries to emulate the aesthetic of songs like “Fast taker” or “Death tone”. For example the modern hard rock-ish “Among the bones” or the bland “Devil’s day”. And to be honest I found the album has its share of mundane moments: “We are the night”, “Mother of horrors” and the boring ballad “Faith of the fallen”. All of them uninteresting and typical. What’s more I found the vocals to be quite annoying. I am not saying that Lopez is a bad vocalist (his singing in MELIAH RAGE was great) but he is unfitting. Somehow I miss the previous vocalist who, although his voice was less powerful, was better suited for the job.
Yet not everything is grim: “Lilith” is a seven minute epic tune while “This is vengeance” and “Fistful of hate” are the best songs of the album. Mr. Friedman truly deliver’s there! And speaking of Ross the Boss, it would be a shame not to mention is superb guitar work. While not a virtuoso his skills are far above the level of many of his fellow guitar players.
To make a long story short, I think that Ross the Boss could have done better here. I liked almost half of the songs while the other half to were forgettable. Should he focus on songs like “A fistful of hate” his next album may become a classic.