True As Steel(1986). Warlock's third studio album.
At the dawn of the 80s, many heavy metal bands hailed from all over the place in order to make their sound heard. Germany was a great music spot as well as England and the United States. From there came bands like the Scorpions, Accept, and Warlock, all showing the world how heavy metal should be done. The Scorpions had much experience under their belt and ended up being one of the most successful metal bands to date, managing to survive the grunge rock wave of the early 90s. Accept were underrated amongst all the NWOBHM bands, yet they managed to churn out classic album after classic album up until their official break-up sometime in the 90s.
Warlock were a really special case at that time because they were a fully-fledged heavy metal band with a female-fronting vocalist, something that wasn't very common at all, considering how many female fronted bands favored a pop music sheen at the time. Warlock beautifully demonstrated Doro Pesche's unbridled power on both Burning The Witches(1984) and Hellbound(1985), their first and second albums respectively. Backing her up were guitarists Rudy Graf and Peter Szigeti, bassist Frank Rittel, and drummer Michael Eurich, all competent metal musicians in their own right. 1986 saw the band move into slightly more melodic musical landscapes, yet they still retained their edge that previous albums displayed. Although it didn't get as much warm reception as the band wanted it to, TAS may well be Warlock's masterpiece and one of the best albums to come out of the mid 80s (Yes, it's even a little bit better than the follow-up Triumph & Agony(1987) which is still excellent).
I don't know exactly what it is about this album, but I can't remember the last time I repeatedly played a hard-rock album over and over again and not grow tired of it. Seriously, I must've played TAS 10 times in a row on the day I bought it! It's seen countless replays since then and to this day I still do not ever become bored of its hard rocking sensibilities and unique melodic atmosphere. Of course, taken at face value it does sound like a lot of other hard rock coming out at the time, but there's something about TAS that I can't quite pinpoint which separates this one from others. It's very underrated and perhaps one of the most forgotten gems of 1986, but in my eyes it is clearly a masterpiece that all fans of this genre need to hear. It's a real shame that TAS didn't receive a better reception than it did, because I'm sure that if it had seen some exposure in the States, it would be right up there with their successful follow-up album.
TAS is Warlock's lengthiest studio album clocking in at eleven tracks, yet they fly by in no time at all. From the majestic anthems of the title track and the speed metal of 'Speed Of Sound' to the epic feel of 'Midnight In China' and the excellent balladry of 'Love Song', there is plenty of variety to be found here. Although I guess you could say that 'Reckless(Igloo On The Moon)' is the closest thing to filler on the disc, it's still a good song, and I did not find a single weak track in the mix. My absolute favorites are the aforementioned 'Midnight In China' and the title track, plus also the soaring opener 'Mr. Gold' and mid-paced mayhem of 'Fight For Rock'. 'Love In The Danger Zone' is slower and gloomy, whereas 'Vorwarts Alright!' and 'Lady In A Rock And Roll Hell' are more power-steady numbers that would fit well played in a large arena. I believe that 'T.O.L.' is the only instrumental the band has ever done, and it's a fine way to close the album. This release's only downside comes from the fact that Warlock has never been a gold-mine when it comes to lyrics, but when it comes to power arena-metal melody music like this, lyrics don't really matter.
Warlock didn't last very long, but they managed to put out 4 hard-hitting classics in their short time span, with TAS being the best of the bunch. The line-up faltered after this album's extensive touring, replacing Szigeti and Rittel with two American musicians, and relocating to the US where T&A was produced. Once Warlock ended, Doro managed to gain a successful solo career in Germany that's still going strong to this date. Other members like Szigeti and Rittel moved onto former Accept Frontman Udo Dirkshneider's solo band U.D.O., whereas Eurich moved onto the hard rock German band Cassanova.
Replayability: Very High. I'll break this one out from time to time, no matter what mood I'm in.
Overall, it's safe to say that if you like Warlock's other releases you should feel right at home with TAS. In fact, any one who is into the mid-80s hard rock/metal scene should find something to like off of here. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
-Any of Warlock's other studio albums (ALL are great)
-'Force Majure' and 'Doro' (both are the closest sounding to the former band Warlock.
-'Defenders Of The Faith' by Judas Priest and 'Rage For Order' by Queensryche (not the same as TAS, but both have a unique feel to them much like TAS does)
-Anything by Lita Ford or Vixen (both female/female fronted hardrock bands)