Ross The Boss - By Blood Sworn
AFM Records
Heavy Metal
10 songs (46' 34")
Release year: 2018
Ross The Boss, AFM Records
Reviewed by Andy

Seeing the return of a founding member of a classic band like Manowar may be pleasing, but the music is unlikely to be surprising. Although there's always the chance of getting a surprise, few would expect Ross the Boss to play something that doesn't sound like Manowar. On the other hand, for Manowar fans who believe the band has been diminished by Ross's departure, a new installment of his old-time heavy metal might hit the spot. So does his band's third album, By Blood Sworn, measure up?

It depends on what you're expecting. As might be expected from an act named after the lead guy, Ross delivers soloing and riffs on par with his previous work while the other members put in a solid performance supporting him, which doesn't blow anyone away. If it's Manowar-style bombast and riffing you want, though, you will get it. While I wasn't a big fan of the title track, in which the vocals were a little too over-the-top even by Ross standards, Among the Bones has more meat and muscle to it, and so does the furious thrasher This Is Vengeance, at least on the verses; more on that in a moment. This is distilled old-time US heavy metal at its best -- at least, instrumentally.

If only the songwriting and vocal performance was at the same level. Ross can't be charged with doing nothing to try to improve the band, as he tweaked some things since his last album, with good results. He replaced vocalist/secondary guitarist Patrick Fuchs, who never had a voice quite ballsy enough to match Ross's guitar work, with newcomer Marc Lopes, and this was certainly a step in the right direction -- Lopes can hit high screams without sounding like he's getting strangled. But it doesn't go quite far enough. Say what you like about Joey Demaio and his sometimes-ridiculous vocal delivery, he could put heart into any song no matter how stupid it sounded on paper, and Lopes simply can't sound quite as enthusiastic. On By Blood Sworn he sounds as if he's singing for a third-tier European power metal band, not the solo project of a heavy metal pioneer. The vocalist isn't the only drawback, however. While the verses are often gutsy affairs of the sort we'd expect out of a Manowar founder, the choruses almost always get slower and lazier, right where a fist-pumping chorus would be most welcome.

Whether you like By Blood Sworn depends on what you liked Ross-era Manowar for. If it was the heavy riffing above all else, you're probably going to like this one too. But Manowar paired some great songwriting with the heaviness, and that's not as much in evidence here.

Killing Songs :
Among the Bones, This Is Vengeance
Andy quoted 73 / 100
Other albums by Ross The Boss that we have reviewed:
Ross The Boss - New Metal Leader reviewed by Marty and quoted 80 / 100
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