1. Slayer Of Souls 2. First Winds of the End of Time 3. Calling Angels 4. Holy Hell 5. Lion of Judah 6. I'm a Warrior 7. I'll be Waiting For You [bonus] 8. When Darkness Reigns 9. The Revelation 10. Move On
Was it the devout and kindly Mr. Rock's intention to blow our collective heads off with the release of his third solo effort, "Holy Hell"? I can't say for sure, but what I can say with absolute conviction is that this is his heaviest material to date and metal fans everywhere should hold on to your body parts and rejoice!
The album opens with "Slayer of Souls". It clocks in as the shortest track on the album (3:32), but it packs a massive kickoff and sets the overall pace. Thunderous, rapid-fire drumming courtesy of Bobby Jarzombek (Halford, Iced Earth) blast from the opening and it's like a chorus of cannon shots throughout. Other standouts are the title track "Holy Hell" and "Lion of Judah". "Calling Angels" is classic Rob Rock; a soaring, melodic anthem. The guitar work is superb and Rob has never sounded so good. Maybe it's the influence of producer Roy Z, who also contributed with additional guitar and bass lines, but there is something undeniably Halford-esque in these tracks.
The European version of the album contains a bonus track, "I'll Be Waiting For You". The track is Rock's touching tribute to his father, John Peter Rock, who passed away in 2004. Hardcore fans of heavy might be taken aback at first, but the song is well-constructed. Rock is in good voice, and anybody who can't feel and sympathize with this expression of love for a lost family member has probably been fortunate enough to never lose a parent. It's unclear whether the US/Asia version will include this track.
Fans of Rock's Impellitteri days will enjoy the 2005 version of "I'm A Warrior". What's more, the CD has a multimedia feature including wallpapers, screen saver, and a video clip of footage from Rock's Impellitteri days to present, set to the tune. The final track is an ABBA cover, "Move On". Rock is joined by the formidable Edguy throatman Tobias Sammet on this one. An ABBA cover may seem a bit quirky as a closer to this otherwise massive metal behemoth, but Rock and Sammet are two of the best voices in the power metal genre and they compliment each other to the extreme. I doubt many others (with all respects to ABBA) could make this song sound as amazing.
Overall, I'd say Rob Rock has a rare work of metal perfection on his hands. One listen will solidify his place as the top dog in the field of melodic metal. Likewise, whether you're receptive to his powerful message of faith and the need for reliance on an omnipotent provider and savior, or not, you'll find much to enjoy about this album. Excellent job, Rob!
--Susan Wright 5.5.05
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