To be released on November 5, 2021 (Rocking Bastard Records)
I have to hold my hands up and state that most things metal and hailing from Germany, have never grabbed much attention from me. Whilst acknowledging their obvious ability and acclaim, the likes of U.D.O. and the Schenker’s have always left me cold and uninterested, so it was with a very deep sigh that I pressed play on the second album from that nation’s Bad Butler and, in all honesty, settled back to be completely unimpressed.
The slow, eerie sound effect styled opening to “Ballad of Flesh & Blood” didn’t do much to dispel that feeling until the song kicked in and proved to be a hard driving rocker that caught me completely off guard and immediately had the right foot tapping! “Black Church” and “Lost & Hopeless” are both sprawling and slightly swampy in style with the latter being the better of the two for me, in terms of immediate appeal.
“Hornz Up” is an out and out anthem with thankfully only vague Iron Maiden traces that do nothing to hinder the obvious commercial appeal of a full stadium response to this potential audience pleaser. “Serious Business” continues the rich vein with another commanding chorus, and “The Others” has a growling ,, almost Helloween-like feel to it.
Unfortunately – for me at least – we are back in Maiden like territory for “Shattered Dreams”, “Expect No Mercy” and “The Stand” which are all epic and apocalyptic with faintly ludicrous lyrics and the requisite Bruce Dickinson styled vocal, although all three aforementioned tracks are bolstered by fine production and superb guitar work. “Raise Your Flag” thankfully ends proceedings with another rousing rocker that all but dismisses my personal preference annoyance of the Maiden influences which are also very evident on the album cover artwork.
The twin guitars of Gary Bonassi and Christian Lautemann are ferocious, featuring some fine solos on many of the songs which should easily appease those who yearn for them in their rock. The rhythm section of Tom Diener’s drums and Tina Backe’s insistent bass are all fine compliments to the charismatic vocals of frontman Nik Knockler whose vocal range is highly impressive throughout.
Whilst this album hasn’t drastically changed my opinion of all things Germanic in metal and won’t have me rushing out to load up with Scorpions or U.D.O. back catalogues, it was, overall, a pleasant surprise and, to quote the title of their 2017 debut album, Not Bad At All. Hornz Up indeed !
01. Ballad of Flesh & Blood
02. Black Church
03. Lost & Hopeless
04. Hornz Up
05. Serious Business
06. The Others
07. Shattered Dreams
08. Expect No Mercy
09. The Stand
10. Raise Your Flag
Nik Knockler – vocals
Tina Backes – bass
Tom Diener – drums
Gary Bonassi – guitar
Christian Lautemann – guitar
Reviewed by Rockney Colin for Sleaze Roxx, October 2021
Bad Butler‘s “Hornz Up” lyric video: