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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

REVIEW: Ostrogoth (BEL) - Too Hot (1985)

Ostrogoth are a heavy metal/power metal band from Belgium. During their career they released three full length releases: Ecstasy and Danger (1984), Too Hot (1985) and Feelings of Fury (1987), along with one EP called Full Moon's Eyes in (1983). 'Too Hot' is their second full-length album.They have your typical 80s German style hard rocking edge on their music at times, but do mainly sound like a traditional middle European heavy metal band, with some power metal influences to be heard in their music also. Dirty and powerful yet melodic guitars are featured, along with pounding bass that's very audible in the mix. Group shouted choruses are also featured in several songs. Ostrogoth may not quite be up there with 'a-tier' bands, but they do play their traditional eighties heavy-/power metal better than many lesser known average bands do, for example, compared to their country-mates Crossfire or German 'Tyrant' (which is pretty decent band on it's own).

Guitar tone on the album is dirty, sharp, and ripping when palm muted. Ostrogoth's sound is quite bombastic and ballsy, yet melodic same time. They sound something like late eighties era 'Cloven Hoof', mixed with little bit of early Helloween's power metal and Sinner's roughness. Marc "Red Star" de Brauwer delivers vocals with fine quality. He's got similar roughness than many vocalist from Belgium or Germany from corresponding era when he uses the style, but most times he just sings with quite deep and clean soaring voice. Brauwer has quite strong voice and this supports well the overall quite heavy sound of the band.

The songs vary from dirtier rockers to more power metall'ish melodic tracks. 'Sign of Life' is for example of one of speedy power-metal tracks, which have chorus that sounds something like late eighties 'Cloven Hoof' combined with early Helloween-like happy and melodic guitar riffs that pop up occasionally. 'Shoot back' is a very strong track, being a pounding heavy rocker with gloomier melodies and features well made strong backing vocals in it's simple shout-along chorus: "shoot back! (shoot back) shoot back! (shoot back!)", along with some very skillful guitar shredding and soloing. This track would very well fit in German band Railway's third album 'Climax' for example. Title track 'Too Hot' starts with pounding bass and drum rhythm, which soon turns into a bit more speed metal style track with a melodic edge shown in it's vivid pre-chorus and chorus which sounds damn good. It's just an energetic and strong track where De Brauwer's soaring strong vocals really shine. Main rhythm-riff in the song is very simple but works and there's a lot of fast-paced lead guitar shredding and soloing adding some complexity - this is rapid, powerful and melodic heavy metal right here!

Instrumental 'The Gardens of Marrakesh' starts a bit silly way with Arabic sounding acoustic guitar intro that leads into very melodic shredding interlude piece, which sounds like taken straight out of some nineties power metal album such as Gamma Ray's. The three minutes of majestic shredding leads us finally to 'Love In The Streets': a bit pompous sounding power metal track. Despite the song's poor name and wacky lyrics, it's decent song with strong chorus where backing vocals shine. 'Night Women (Don't Like Me)' then takes a turn from majestic power metal towards dirty, rough and bombastic strong sound, with slower tempo, pounding bass and drums, led by chugging guitars. It's one of those fewer songs where De Brauwer also shows his rougher side of vocal delivery, and it truly works! This track just kicks so much ass, and it's perhaps my favorite of the album along with title track 'Too Hot', and perhaps with 'Shoot Back' also. 'Endless Winterdays' is a bit more happy rocker and decent. 'Catch The Sound of Peace' is your regular ballad with some electric guitar parts, a bit cheesy and forced effort. 'Halloween' is average closer for the album with more gloomy melodies, but is perhaps a bit too generic in terms of riffs, and the spoken "evil" interlude in middle of song is a bit unnecessary addition.

Too Hot is one of the better albums released by Mausoleum records, who had many of German and Belgium bands under their wings. The album mixes hard rocking sound with rough and dirty edge together with late eighties/early nineties majestic and melodic power metal shredding. Ostrogoth manages to raise quite high ranking in Mausoleum Records catalogue with 'Too Hot' being better than many other bands with similar style. Guitar solos are strong, lead guitars are quite well above average when they come into play, overall atmosphere is quite energetic, and songs are well paced avoiding mostly to sound plodding and boring efforts. Rhythm guitar riffing is overall strong and De Brauwer's vocals are actually very good with little bit of rough edge mixed with strong melodic delivery. Is overall sound a bit generic? Maybe yes, but album's all well made, the band shows talent in playing and composing department, and thus I don't have much bad to say about this album, except the ballad could be left off (I guess melodic bands feel they 'have to squeeze one in'?). Too Hot is also a bit short on material considering it runs only about 35 minutes, of which there is one instrumental and one ballad. This is your pretty standard eighties heavy/power metal from Belgium, but with bit more hooks and shining melodies added in. Too Hot is pretty well made and enjoyable ride, though not quite raising up to be a first hand classic record. 

80 | reviewer: dungeoncrawler

See any Ostrogoth records available in Amazon

  • Rudy "White Shark" Vercruysse - Guitars (lead)
  • Marc "Red Star" de Brauwer - Vocals
  • Hans "Sphinx" van de Kerckhove - Guitars
  • Marnix "Bronco" van de Kauter - Bass
  • Mario "Grizzly" Pauwels - Drums

  • 1. Too Hot 03:50
  • 2. Shoot Back 03:45
  • 3. Sign of Life 03:12
  • 4. The Gardens of Marrakesh 03:13
  • 5. Love in the Streets 03:38
  • 6. Night Women (Don't Like Me) 04:31
  • 7. Endless Winterdays 04:08
  • 8. Catch the Sound of Peace 04:40
  • 9. Halloween 04:28
    • Total Running Time: 35:25

For Collectors:
(Following prices have raised since ’99 but will give you direction
my bet is you can double them up
Used album price @ Martin Popoff’s Heavy Metal Record Price Guide (1999):

Label – Mausoleum/8374
Type – LP/B/85
Near Mint – $10.50
Very Good+ - $5.50

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