Attacker - Battle At Helm's Deep
Sentinel Steel Records
U.S. Power Metal from New Jersey
13 songs (55:35)
Release year: 1999
Attacker, Sentinel Steel Records
Reviewed by Jeff
Archive review

I've been meaning to write this review for a while. Now is as good a time as any because on December 18th the most highly anticipated movie of the year, "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" is being released in the United States. The following album takes it's name from the setting of one of the largest epic battle scenes in cinema history ever filmed to date. I'm talking about the Battle at Helm's Deep, and the band is Attacker!

Attacker were a heavy metal/power metal band from Hoboken, New Jersey. Formed in 1983, they were originally called Warloc but changed their name just prior to releasing their first demo tape. Attacker gained a strong following in the local area by playing both covers (from bands like Riot, Anvil, Dio, Maiden, Accpet, etc.) and original material. The original demo, recorded on 8 tracks, drew some very favorable press. It received praise from heavy metal magazines like Metal Forces for Attacker's european styled twin axe guitar attack of Jim Mooney and Pat Marinelli, and Bob Mitchells's (Vyndykator) heavy German style vocals.

The Attacker demo gained the interest of Brian Slagel over at Metal Blade. The "Metal Massacre" compilations helped alot of unsigned bands get noticed. His interest in Attacker prompted them to re-record their original demo version of "(Call On) The Attacker" in a 24 track studio. The song appeared on the "Metal Massacre V" compilation and helped the band obtain more exposure.

Attacker then went into the studio to record their debut album, "Battle At Helm's Deep". Everything was to their liking except the bass tracks. So they recruited Lou Ciarlo to redo all the bass tracks. Also, there was a discrepency prior to the album's release over the artwork for the cover. The one that was orignally submitted was allegedly destroyed in a tragic accident. It had a very professional look, almost like that of artists like Ken Kelly or Frank Frazetta. A more comic like one was unwillingly used in it's place.

"Battle At Helm's Deep" received solid reviews, but there were alot of factors that hindered the potential exposure of this highly underated and somewhat unoticed release. Thrash music was on the rise. Opportunities to go on national tours never came their way. And Metal Blade had so many bands on their roster that Attacker got lost in the herd, never getting the same type of promotion to the extent other acts on the Metal Blade label received. Because of these frustrations, as well as musical and personal differences, Bob Mitchell left the band. Attacker would have a few line up changes before releasing their sophomore effort, "The Second Coming" in 1988.

I first heard Attacker's "Battle At Helm's Deep" when I was in high school back in 1985. At the time, they sounded like a heavy metal version of Zebra vocal wise with Metal Church, Accept and Judas Priest influences. I was instantly hooked on their style of music; air raid vocals, lots of power chords and killer riffs, a tight rhythm section of bass and drums, and a punchy production that had a certain rawness to it yet mixed well.

Every track on this album kicks major ass! The beginning intro for "The Hermit" has a little bit of an orchestral feel to it with mandolin like acoustic guitars, brass instruments, etc. before taking the listener by surprise and changing gears."The Wrath of Nevermore" has some crisp sounding twelve string acoustic breaks mixed in with some aggressive guitar playing. "Disciple" has some traditional double bass drum patterns during the chorus. And "Slayer's Blade" is a great up tempo track with Bob Mitchell screeching out the vocals the point of breaking ear drums! Classic characteristics of a must have heavy metal record!.

I longed for the day that this album would be released on CD. It was originally released on Metal Blade Records in 1985. Thanks to Sentinel Steel Records, "Battle At Helm's Deep" was re-released in 1999. It was remastered and repackaged with new artwork (an excellent painting of a Balrog battling Gandalf), three demo tracks and one unreleased track. It's sounds amazing!

I'm glad that there are people in the music industry who realize the importance of heavy metal music and the bands that may not have sold millions of records back in the 80's; preserving and making these important works available once again so that the listeners of yesterday and today can hear and discover music they might have missed.

Killing Songs :
The Wrath of Nevermore, Disciple, Downfall, Slayer's Blade, (Call On) The Attacker
Jeff quoted 94 / 100
Other albums by Attacker that we have reviewed:
Attacker - Soul Taker reviewed by Jeff and quoted 76 / 100
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