[schema type=”review” name=”Herman Frank- The Devil Rides Out” description=”Label: AFM Records” author=”Sarp Esin” pubdate=”2016-11-18″ ]
Herman Frank is a name most often heard in the same sentence as Accept, and about half a dozen others, but he does have somewhat of a solo venture. Let’s see how he fares on his own.
The music involved in Herman Frank’s latest output is not hard to describe, in fact, two words will take care of that: heavy metal. Add a little something more to complete the description, such as “as it was, and some say was meant to be, played.” We’ll get to this in a minute. What’s waiting for you here are killer, blazing riffs, frenetic drumming, equally hard bass, incendiary solos and competent, slightly higher-pitched vocals belting forth rabble-rousing, anthemic arena rock lyrics (backed, of course, by choirish gang vocals.) If that doesn’t conjure images of jeans, headbands and fingerless gloves, then you’re in the wrong place.
Herman Frank and co. are all more than competent musicians (just check out the intro of “Dead or Alive”) and they are more than capable of generating a rockin’ tune. The songs that they have put together here are all solid – at least, individually, they are. Together is a different matter entirely.
Now, the heart of the matter: The Devil Rides Out is heavy on the nostalgia. Despite anything else, despite the competent playing involved, the nicely structured songs, the power metal-like hooks and the way the vocals are used, despite the fairly ear-tickling solos, it’s all just one blast from the past after another, united under the guise of an album made in or at least near 2016. The easily-recognizable sound hails from decades past, recalling the way the big guys such as Priest, Accept or Maiden did back in the day. Hell, even the production, though admittedly glossier than what was offered when this album could have been made, has that old tint.
Which is precisely the razor’s edge that Herman Frank and co. tread here, because while the songs stand up good on their own, it’s so heavily “way back when” metal that one can’t help but think of a dozen other albums one can be re-listening to than Herman Frank’s rendition of the good old days. That is an unfortunate fact, however, it also does The Devil Rides Out a disservice. Why? The opener, “Running Back” demonstrates this adequately, being an adrenaline-fueled, double-bass pounding ball of fire that sets the pace quite nicely: hard and fast-ish (try as it might, the song is desperately stuck in upper-mid-tempo.)
Connected to this is the prime weakness of the album: while each song is of course built with different riffs, different passages, etc. they all carry the same basic feeling and follow pretty much the same structure. Start to finish, the album feels like it’s one song, reconstructed but ultimately repeated twelve times. There’s nothing at all wrong with Herman Frank playing to their strengths, but the album is so unwavering in it’s conviction to hammering in song after song after song of the same thing that it becomes overwhelming. A song like “Thunder Of Madness” or “License to Kill” is a good thing, but an entire album of only songs like those falls, in this case, short of offering sufficient variety.
Ultimately, though, someone named Herman Frank doesn’t really need to prove anything to anyone, and The Devil Rides Out is a solid endeavor, if plagued consistently by it’s fundamental flaws, and at this point, you either dig this stuff, or you don’t. I’d say give this a listen, see if you’ll dig.
Herman Frank – guitars
Rick Altzi – vocals
Michael Müller – bass
André Hilgers – drums
01. Running Back
03. Can’t Take It
04. No Tears In Heaven
05. Ballhog Zone
06. Run Boy Run
07. Thunder Of Madness
08. License to Kill
09. Stone Cold
10. Dead or Alive
11. Run for Cover
12. I Want It All