Headhunter

Headhunter

Headhunter

Parasite of Society

Candlelight

It’s been quite a year for Schmier. The German thrash metal mainstay has been able to pull off the musical equivalent of having one’s cake and eating it too. Not only did his legendary thrash outfit Destruction kick back against the immutable law of diminishing reunion returns with the D.E.V.O.L.U.T.I.O.N. album, but just for the fuck of it, he decided to reunite with his other band Headhunter and turn out yet another storming set of metal for metal’s sake. See, bizarrely, Schmier was kicked out of his own band after a string of classic albums around 1990. He retaliated by forming Headhunter and sating his power metal jones for several years until Destruction reformed. His recent work with Destruction seems to have thoroughly rejuvenated him and having two bands going simultaneously seems no big deal to lifer Schmier. So is Parasite of Society simply D.E.V.O.L.U.T.I.O.N. II: Electric Boogaloo? Amazingly, given the fact that Schmier’s vocal rasp is so immediately distinctive and characteristic, the answer is not really. Headhunter explores an entirely distinct off-route of metal than the gleaming blade stomps of Destruction.

The songwriting is very much in line with classic power metal (think Queensryche, Helloween, Mercyful Fate, Iron Maiden), although a dirtier, rougher shade. Guitars and vocals soar, classic poses are struck, melody is not shunned, solos not afraid to soak in shred, choruses are made for the pumping of fists. Covers of Skid Row’s “18 And Life” and Judas Priest’s “Rapid Fire” — not to mention quite possibly drunken attempts at the famous “Third Man Theme” and the “Mahna Mahna” song from Sesame Street — somewhat disrupt the flow of the album. This short circuits any notion that Schmier is making a play for the brass ring of wider acceptance with Headhunter. But goddamn, the band is tight, never getting winded, and I can’t deny the headbanging possibilities of songs like “Silver Skull,” and “Read My Lips.” And I like them undercutting the more accessible efforts with goofs and one-offs — it keeps the album from being too good, too portentous and polished. It’s messy. It’s metal.

Candlelight Records: www.candlelightrecordsusa.com

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