“Throwback metal” feels like a disservice to what bands like Pittsburgh PA’s Lady Beast are doing for the scene. Keeping the torch burning for melody, galloping guitars and harmonized leads, bass that’s never content to merely double, and rock solid drumming in service to powerhouse vocals is vital to keep the heart and head, shoulder and fist in sync with that most glorious of terms, HEAVY METAL. And on third album Vicious Breed the band carries the torch high, indeed. Having been part of the Pittsburgh scene since forming in 2009, their 2012 self titled debut firmly laid down the law as to where the band was coming from. Fusing NWOBHM with the swagger of early 80s American hard rock was the aim, and if tracks like “Metal Rules” and “The Lost Boys” don’t immediately bring back the likes of early Priest and Tygers of Pan Tang, once the first notes leave the throat of vocalist Deborah Levine there’s no room for doubt. There’s a primal, striking force in her voice, easily moving from a clear, sonorous sweep to a more grit and gravelly power when needed.
The potential on the debut was given a cleaner production on Lady Beast II, and continuing the in-your-face-statement of song titles like “Caged Fury” and “Heavy Metal Destiny” complement the more prominent guitar partnership of founding member Chris “Twiz” Tritschler and Tommy Kinnet (since replaced by Andy Ramage) echoing the classic duos like Tipton and Downing, or Smith and Murray (we’ll leave Gers out of this). The speed and aggression is ramped up on tracks like “Forest of the Impaled” and when they slow down, like on, well…who am I kidding? They don’t slow down. Every song is a rocker on Lady Beast II.
If there’s a complaint to be made on the earlier albums, it’s the thin sounding production that doesn’t lift the songs to the level they should be at. Cruz del Sur must have thought the same, and their backing along with the band’s growth as songwriters put Vicious Breed as easily their best album to date. Opener “Seal the Hex” feels like the best song they’ve written. It’s a powerhouse of riffs and speed, and will have you shouting out the chorus immediately. If there’s one thing each track on the new albums amply display, it’s that Lady Beast has zero fear of hooks or catchy melodies. These are songs first and foremost, and the goal of each song is to ramp you up and take you someplace…someplace awesome and full of leather and denim and a jukebox where every song is loud and alive and goes great with your favorite beer. Whether it’s the measured march of “Lone Hunter,” the swagger of “Get Out” or the power of the near-ballad “Sky Graves” there’s not a shred of fat on this 37 minute platter.
Get in, slay, get out. Lady Beast adhere to the best principles of traditional metal on Vicious Breed and if there’s justice in the world you’ll see them live and come away with your fingers locked in a permanent devil horns. Doesn’t matter what you wore going in: you’re wearing denim and spikes coming out, and your now-luxurious hair will be a tangled mess from all the whipping back and forth, which is a good thing because it’ll hide the mile-wide smile on your face.