Ross The Boss - By Blood Sworn

Ross The Boss By Blood Sworn cover
Ross The Boss
By Blood Sworn
AFM Records
Ross “The Boss” Friedman is joined by Marc Lopes on vocals and keyboard, with Lance Barnewold smashing the drums and Mike LePond setting the bass ablaze. Luckily they all lived close by so the album was created organically. Starting with Ross and Mike playing around with some tunes and riffs, then forming the songs around them. Ross drives the direction of the song writing, but lets the songs form naturally and fits his legendary guitar skills around them.
The album art, by Stan Decker, gives you a big clue of what the album contains. Powerful heavy metal songs that can imagine in the backdrop of a Viking battle march. Driving the warriors forward to war and glory, pumping them full of energy and fight. It following their classic themes of war and glory, but with a heavier and darker undertone. But still packed full of electric riffs, booming drums and Marc’s classic falsetto screams.
A racing beat and electric fast riffs are joined by the deep booming drums. Only to be outdone by Marc’s skilled vocal range, switching effortlessly between deep and dark classic heavy metal vocals and piercingly high falsetto screams. His vocals bring a varied layer to the already outstanding musical accompaniments, and the lyrics tell a story, of battles and glory won.
The title track kicks off as they mean to go on, with Marc’s deep and dark lyrics about war and glory and his tell-tale screams. Building up pace and complexity, ending with a crashing drum solo by Lance.
There’s a mixture of styles of songs included in this album. More classic bouncing metal songs like “Play Among the Godz” popping with energy and sure to get you moving. Combined with some heavier metal tracks, such as “We Are the Night” and “This is Vengeance”.
“Fistful of Hate” was also one of my favourite tracks as it took a different style, starting with just a quick galloping beat on the drums, slowly adding layers with fast twanging guitar and bass chords. Built up into a full battle march by Marc’s vocals. The song escalates through a variety of pumping riffs and varied vocals, into a heavy rock and metal storm.
The first half of “Lilith” is another hauntingly beautiful ballad style piece. But after a brief pause, a classic electric riff from Ross signals the second half and they launch into their more classic metal style songs. Switching the feel and pace back down again to the mysterious ballad style. Which just felt a bit too chopped up without enough transition between the styles.
A key favourite of mine is “Faith of the Fallen”, as it’s a lot slower paced, mystical and the lyrics tell a story. It feels almost out of place in comparison to the rest of the album. I think they smashed the slower ballad style, a testament to their varied skills set, and would be great to hear them play more song like this added extra.
And for all of you Manowar fans, they’ve even included three bonus tracks of Manowar covers! My absolute favourite is the punky “Hail and Kill”. It showcases some of Ross’ and Marc’s best talents along with a catchy chanting chorus. Ending on a perfect falsetto scream and crash on the cymbals. When I saw their show last week, I was a very happy lil metalhead when they played it, and the crowd definitely seemed to concur as they chanted along.
This album is a great collection of songs, combining their varied skills sets and styles. Bringing in classic metal tones and riffs, set off with a heavy metal bass and drum beat. Finally, finished with their standard lyrical themes of war and glory. However, to compensate for the variety of tracks there could have been a stronger story or style progression to lead the listeners through the album. Ross dragged old school metal kicking and screaming into the modern metal age.