Ross the Boss - _New Metal Leader_
(Candlelight, 2009)
by: Jeremy Ulrey (8 out of 10)
Ross is getting to be an old son of a Boss. Having cut his teeth in the mid-'70s in the proto-punk oufit The Dictators, Ross went on to establish his metal credentials by co-founding the seminal Manowar. Bowing out of that legendary ensemble after the _Kings of Metal_ album -- a curious move -- Ross the Boss apparently decided to get back to his traditional r'n'r roots. This move, punctuated by his activity with mainstream hard rockers Manitoba's Wild Kingdom and the Brain Surgeons, has perhaps rewarded Ross with artistic satisfaction but little in the way of album sales, critical acclaim, or really much attention at all for that matter.

Finally, twenty years after his last brush with power metal, Ross the Boss has jumped head first back into the fringe with his first proper solo album, _New Metal Leader_, and truthfully it's as if time has stood still for the past two decades. As much as I'd love to be that rare American who understands why power metal as a genre is still potent and relevant, I'm not that hombre. When done at its best I respect and even occasionally love it, but for the most part it seems the biggest excuse for mediocrity and stunted artistry in the guise of traditionalism in all the metal kingdom. I haven't even been able to listen to Manowar with any genuine enthusiam in years.

Imagine my surprise, then, when Ross the Boss posts a comeback album in 2008 that has zero modern influences, sports lengthy, drawn out -- though not necessarily 'epic' -- songs, and yet manages to consistently push my buttons. Singer Patrick Fuchs is a worthy substitute for Eric Adams, though having a vocal identity of his own, and Ross' guitar work belies the fact that he's been dabbling in anything other than power metal all these years. "I Got the Right" and "Constantine's Sword" anchor an entire album of consistently excellent power metal, "Matador" even offering some virtuosic Spanish guitar. For this reviewer it's time to consolidate interests and invite Ross back into the Manowar fold... they haven't released an album this front-to-back good in years.


(article published 31/1/2009)

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