Heavy Load

Death or Glory

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Staying the course set by the previous year's Metal Conquest EP, Heavy Load's second full album (and first since 1978's Full Speed at High Level debut), Death or Glory, confirmed the Swedish group's rebirth as a token Euro-metal band for the 1980s; which in essence made them guilty of the same, all-purpose riff mongering and lyrical futility as, say, the Scorpions and Krokus, and some of the more traditional New Wave of British Heavy Metal acts like Saxon and Blitzkrieg. Let's not let Judas Priest off the hook, either, because the hallowed British ensemble's campier "crossover" efforts like "Savage," "United," and "Take on the World" (i.e. the ones that sound most like Spinal Tap) influenced many of these bands' worst habits, and certainly Heavy Load's. So keep all that in mind whilst sampling amusingly rudimentary genre templates like the anthemic "Heavy Metal Angels," the proto-thrashing "Might for Right" (reminiscent of Accept), and the primeval Viking metal of "The Guitar Is My Sword" (quite possibly the band's best song ever, because their ilk hadn't yet been extensively satirized back then). If anything, they were ahead of the '80s heavy metal curve, for what that's worth! Furthermore, Heavy Load had definitely become a stronger proposition with the recent addition of vocalist/guitarist Eddy Malm, who was hardly Ronnie James Dio, but certainly helped take some of the pressure off the band's other, similarly limited co-vocalist/guitarist, Ragne Wahlquist. Of course no amount of proper perspective can account for a few utterly dire offerings such as the coma-inducing AOR plod of "Something New," the unconvincing N.W.O.B.H.M.-inspired head-banger "Trespasser," or the album's clumsily stitched-together closing epic, "Daybreak Ecstasy." All things considered, though, Death or Glory is arguably Heavy Load's finest hour, and it represented another brick for the house of Swedish heavy metal (just the magnificent cover art, depicting a Norse warrior slaying a polar bear, is proof enough of that).

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