Elegant Weapons — Horns For A Halo (Nuclear Blast)

Trad metal, as fans of Seven Sisters, Riot City and High Spirits know all too well, is enjoying a refreshing renaissance right now.

But that bullish new breed of bands remains very much at the forefront of an underground revolution.

Striking out for the next level remains a struggle.

So how do they get there anytime soon?

Well, perhaps the new kids on the NWOTHM block need a star-studded standard bearer — with a suitably expansive profile – to remind the masses of metal’s enduring appeal.

And ultimately to shine a light on the supremely talented bands bubbling under on both sides of the Pond.

Step forward Elegant Weapons.

The brainchild of Richie Faulkner, this supercharged supergroup is rooted in NWOBHM fury and classic 70s heavy rock.

Flourishes of Alice In Chains-styled grunge keep things fresh.

And there’s even a bluesy feel to some of the groovier tracks here.

But first and foremost, Horns For A Halo is a metal record.

And when Faulkner insists this dazzling debut is ‘heavy, but moving slightly outside the realms of heavy metal’ we feel the Priest man doth protest too much.

If Horns For A Halo isn’t trad metal in its truest form then we’ll eat our Iron Maiden bucket hat.

Richie vein of form

Richie Faulkner has long since been credited with breathing new life into the Judas Priest franchise.

Firmly established as full-throttle riffmeister, Elegant Weapons enables the dextrous six-stringer to spread his wings.

And by recruiting frontman for hire Ronnie Romero, Priest band mate Scott Travis and Pantera/Down rhythm king Rex Brown, Faulkner has found a way to soar.

In tandem with producer Andy Sneap, Elegant Weapons have crafted a record sure to find favour with metal’s old guard and its newest recruits.

The adrenaline-fuelled intro to opener Dead Man Walking is straight out of the Maiden playbook.

But even within the six minutes of that bold statement of intent, it’s clear this album benefits from a critically commercial edge.

Last month the monstrous Do Or Die deservedly picked up a Red Hot Track Of The Week gong as an example of ‘fusing metal’s glorious past with its limitless future’.

And there’s lots more where that came from on the thunderous Horns For A Halo.

Ghost Of You — the record’s only slower song — is like ‘Michael Buble metal’…and that’s meant to be a compliment.

There’s a compelling sentiment of swing underpinning another Romero vocal masterclass. 

Heavy metal? Maybe not. But it’s brilliant nonetheless.

Bitter Pill brings a taste of grunge as Faulkner pushes the boundaries.

But Horns For A Halo never strays too far from its trad metal roots as it looks to take Seven Sisters et al along for the ride.