Chariot

Burning Ambition

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Like most late arrival New Wave of British Heavy Metal bands, London's Chariot were smart enough to know better, but limited enough to fall short of accomplishing it. In other words, their tardiness gave them a chance to actually analyze what made the most talented and inventive of N.W.O.B.H.M. acts (Iron Maiden, Def Leppard and, to a lesser degree, Saxon) capable of achieving broader commercial success; yet their own far more modest abilities -- not to mention lack of vision to lead instead of follow -- resulted in competent but predictable albums like 1986's Burning Ambition and its slightly superior predecessor, The Warrior. At least that debut had bared its sharp heavy metal fangs now and then, where their sophomore turn played its cards maddeningly close to the vest, came slathered in those horrendously dated, big '80s production values (booming snare drums, echoes turned way up -- you name it), and those already mentioned cookie-cutter Brit metal songwriting. Workmanlike head-bangers like "Play to Win," "Burning," and "Strangers" were unthinkingly paraded before the listener with little to distinguish them from each other -- never mind the heavy metal pack at large. And on those rare occasions when Chariot managed to rescue the listener from a state of bored distraction, the cause was as likely to be an embarrassing blunder like the god-awful power ballad "So Blind," as the half-decent choruses of "Screams the Night" and "This Time You Lose." In the end, one is tempted to forgive Burning Ambition's mediocrity on the basis of there being a hell of a lot worse released by their peers, but that leniency was already awarded Chariot's first album -- sorry.

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