Sandstorm - Desert Warrior
Dying Victims Productions
Heavy Metal / NWOBHM
4 songs (20'59")
Release year: 2021
Reviewed by Alex

I have driven with Sandstorm’s Desert Warrior EP in my car player for a long while, for what seems like months. Not that I have been listening to it daily, no, but I have been trying to understand the excitement expressed by many others who have heard this 4-tracker. Time and time again, I have been running through 20 minutes of this NWOBHM/early proto-metal, and while finding it respectable, I failed to totally catch the wave. In the end I think the prejudice that this is the reincarnation of early Judas Priest, the statement I have heard somewhere, is what did me in, and I could never shake off this rather unfair comparison.

First, a few interesting facts about the band. Sandstorm appears to be Canadian (Vancouver), but their guitarist and vocalist were born in Sweden (or so my not so painstaking research says). They are a trio, and drum stool is occupied by one lady PJ “The Butcher” Buckner/La Griffe, which is an unusual tidbit. She can drum, but she apparently doesn’t sing, ceding the vocals to a string duo, yet Sandstorm vocals sound very high, almost girly at some points. Evil Wins, for example, while going after old Manowar circa their first two albums in spirit and epic Robert E. Jordan feel, doesn’t quite produce Eric Adams re-embodiment. The song starts with a cool acoustic melody, and then develops fully with some staccato guitar picking. Such song evolution is a theme on the EP. Open up with an Egyptian motif on Power of the Pyramids and then continue on with chugging gallop. Build around solid midpace main riff on the opening title track and then increase the tempo from there. As much as Sandstorm tries not to be stagnant, they are still somewhat static for my taste not blowing my mind melodically, surprising with guitar forays or impressing with heaviness.

Eat Me Alive, although ambitiously titled, also doesn’t reach Judas Priest either, neither the latter NWOBHM/heavy metal pioneers, nor the earlier days psychedelic wanderers. Instead, Sandstorm resembles Saxon for me, not too shabby, but not knocking me off my feet either. In the end though, all those multiple listens paid off, and Desert Warrior eventually clicked, so the fans of modern days proto-heavy metal bands like Legionnaire or Chevalier may enjoy Desert Warrior to the fullest.

Killing Songs :
Desert Warrior, Evil Wins
Alex quoted 78 / 100
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