Album Review: Evil Nightmares by Ruler

When people talk about Iron Maiden they often are always referring to the Bruce Dickinson line-ups which started at the release of their third album, The Number of the Beast.  Rarely when there is mention of someone saying that a band sounds like Iron Maiden does the person making the comparison mean the Blaze Bayley years (and that’s for good reason) or the Paul DiAnno early works.  To avoid any confusion in this review, whenever I make mention of the great Iron Maiden I will be solely referring to the Paul DiAnno albums.  And just to run my mouth about Iron Maiden for a second more, Iron Maiden during the early years was absolutely great, and even though Bruce Dickinson is the superior vocalist, the albums with Paul DiAnno were great and I’ve always wished I could hear a couple more Maiden records from that era.  Now that that’s out of the way, the new debut album, Evil Nightmares, by the Italian metal band Ruler sounds like it could very well be the lost early Iron Maiden record, from the sound and style right down to the packaging and photographic aesthetic.  There is a bit of influence from bands like Saxon and Thin Lizzy tossed in, but man, is this an Iron f’n Maiden album, yet it really stands on its own.

After the cool atmospheric intro the rocking riffs of “Mayday” kick in and from there you enter a time machine and are whisked right back into the early 80’s complete with Spandex, jean jackets covered in patches, and mullets (and don’t kid yourself, if you were around during that time period you found those things cool 😉 ).  Hearing Daniele Valentini’s punky metal singing, Paolo Pontiggia’s galloping bass, Rosario Alcaro’s upbeat drumming, and Mattia Baldoni’s high-flying solo’s and outrageous oldschool riffing you can easily picture yourself in a seedy British pub right at the start of the NWOBHM inception. A complete win in my book!

This great oldschool feel and fun atmosphere the band sets right from the get go flows right into the next track, “We rule the Night” (and my favorite off the record), where there is a nice “Phantom of the Opera” feel to it, and then continues through the entirety of the record.  Maybe my bias toward Iron Maiden is helping the sway of my enjoyment of this record, but I do have to say, even though I think that this could easily be heard as a ‘lost’ Maiden record, there is enough to the band and album to let them stand out as originals and not a tribute band nor a rip-off.  Like I mentioned before, Daniele’s singing is very similar to Paul DiAnno, but when compared side by side he is a couple ocataves higher and he also performs with a much better range and all round more power.  Along with those differences he also carries the similarities that made Paul great.  The raw and raspy punk style and tone are a great match and combine with the differences he is a modern and unique voice to be reckoned with.

Also of great note is Mattia Baldoni’s guitar work.  Dude can jam.  He definitely carries the bluesy style of Dave Murray along with hints of Thin Lizzy’s Gary Moore.  And along with constantly maintaining the old school feel his playing is modern and fresh.  A great example of this is the song “Sujeska” where surrounded by retro riffing and soloing exists a level of technicality that was just not used back during the inception of NWOBHM.  Being able seamlessly stitch the modern technical playing and retro style together really makes the entire album fun to listen to and not swiftly become a been hear done that record.  A superb effort on his part as well as his great song writing ability on the music end which ranges from straight up catchy metal to some more progressive styles.

Not to forget about the rhythm section, Paolo Pontiggia (bass) and Rosario Alcaro (drums) certainly come from the Steve Harris/Clive Burr school of music.  The punchy, upbeat nature of their playing does a lot for the music really adding a nice lighthearted feel to the album but still aggressive enough to be called ‘true’ metal.  I particularly liked the duos work on the title track “Evil Nightmares” where their rhythms made me want to turn my living room into a slam dancing pit with its turbo charged bass lines and snappy beats.

While there is plenty of Iron Maiden love happening on Evil Nightmares, there is more than enough to it to make it really stand out in todays modern metal scene.  There’s retro with bands like The Sword or Havok, and then there’s Retro, where the band is really re-pioneering the sound of a long gone era and truly bringing the old school back, Ruler are one of those bands and Evil Nightmares is a perfect example of how to do such a thing properly.  If you are a Maiden, Saxon, etc. fan, do not hesitate a second to check this album and band out, I promise you won’t be disappointed.  If you’re curious how true modern old school metal sounds, check this out.  If you like metal, I’m sure you know what to do.  Enjoy!  Peace Love and Metal!!!

You can get more great info about the band over on their Facebook page as well as grab yourself a copy of Evil Nightmares for your listening pleasure over their labels site.  Check it out!

About RiffRaff

Just takin' it easy for all you sinners.

Posted on June 14, 2012, in Album Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. ‘Re-pioneering’ is one way of putting it I suppose – ‘homage’ is about as generous as I’m prepared to be, calling it a rip-off seeming mean-spirited ;-). But I’m not much of a fan of these kinda revivalist acts/trends we seem to see so much in music nowadays. Sure, this is well-done but hearing it just makes me want to go back and listen to ‘Killers’ or ‘The Number Of The Beast’ again; likewise, as a fan of ‘Progressive’ music I’m too often underwhelmed by imitators of Genesis, Dream Theater etc. To be fair, many bands start out on their careers with a fairly derivative sound before ‘discovering’ their own unique style (Ministry, Pantera, The Primal Scream all spring to mind) so maybe these guys are just using this as a springboard for future excursions into more radical metal terrain?

    • I love when a band does the retro thing good. Sure, there are a good amount of bands that are sub-par and come off feeding off the backs of the greats, but when a band, such as the above and Municipal Waste are another great example, gets it right it’s a great sound to hear in the modern age. Sure I can always go back and listen to Killers for the 80 millionth time, but, as much as I adore that album, it’s great to hear something new in that style. The fact that they completely capture the feel of the era is a big thing in itself and then there’s the whole live show aspect.
      I feel you are right that this band will most likely move into its own as many do, but if they stuck with the NWOBHM revival I’d keep buying their records. A fresh look on the oldies is always a nice time trip worth taking IMO, when done right 😉

  2. I would rather just listen and enjoy, these guys rocks! 😉

  3. These guys are definitely a nod to the old-school. With all the short-haired kids screaming and bouncing on imaginary pogo sticks it’s nice to hear something with great guitar work. It appeals to my senses. I agree with Guls, they will probably define themselves as they move along and perhaps get away from the Maiden vibe, but for now I dig it. It’s nice to know people haven’t forgotten what metal sounded like before it grew into what it is today. Great review and as always, if there is good guitar solos, i’ll be listening.

  4. Great post and discussion, agree with Guls on the ‘homage’ front and the dude on the Killers shout, ‘We Rule The Night’ especially wouldn’t have out of place on that. Have to say though, I agree Valentini’s greater skill, but that voice of his goes a little too high and piercing for my taste at times (especially on ‘Alone’) don’t think he’s got the beef that Dickenson does..

    • Definitely not a Dickinson. Compared to Di’Anno though….
      When it comes to high vocals I guess it’s all subjective. Some people love King Diamond, some don’t.
      You can’t deny Mattia’s guitar skill on this record though, dude jams and it’s that that really sells this album to me as the great time capsule it is.

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