Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Review of BUS's The Unknown Secretary

No one can deny the influence that the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal had on every metal movement that came after it. The effect it had on Metallica among others has been thoroughly documented but its relationship with doom metal isn't quite as defined. Witchfinder General is the most obvious example of the connection due to their direct inspiration on staples like Cathedral, but even groups like Angel Witch and Holocaust have their place due to their often dark and raw approaches. In addition to having the most impossible name to search for on Google this side of 3, BUS of Athens, Greece is a strong example of the two metal genres meeting at a satisfying crossroad.

Whether you would classify the music on BUS's first full-length album as hard rock, doom, or traditional metal, it has a raw retro style that should appeal to any fans of those genres. The guitar harmonies are obviously channeling Iron Maiden's earliest efforts, the vocals have a mid-range wail reminiscent of Angel Witch's Kevin Heybourne with occult lyrics to match, and an ominous atmosphere can be felt throughout thanks to an early 80s influenced production job. But in an unusual fashion for a band associated with the doom movement, the songs all tend to be based around an upbeat swing tempo with very few of those crushing moments being featured.

Fortunately, the songwriting is focused enough to keep all the songs from sounding too similar to one another. "New Black Volume" may be the most memorable tune here thanks to its bouncy building bass line in the intro while "Forever Grey" offers the most enthusiastic chorus between the mid-70s Rush-style verses. They also do find time to put in a few outliers as "Don't Fear Your Demon" rides a crunchy mid-tempo riff throughout and "Rockerbus" dabbles with the lighter side of 80s metal complete with an opening rhythm that channels Van Halen's "Panama" of all things.

Overall, The Unknown Secretary pushes a style that will ring true with fans of all things retro metal. While some may find the album to be slightly one-dimensional and derivative of other bands, the songs all manage to convince the listener with their upbeat approach and the energy involved should keep them from being seen as a throwaway nostalgia trip. One can only hope that the name choice doesn't hinder their chances at success as they definitely have the potential to come up with something even stronger in the future.

"New Black Volume"
"Forever Grey"

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