Album Review: Evil Nightmares by Ruler
Posted by RiffRaff
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!!!