On Top – Top Heavy

By Fritz

On Top are purveyors of old school metal; that stinks of beer and stale perfume from a rough night before. On Top come at you with that eighties attitude that many metalheads young and old love oh so much.

As soon as you begin to listen to this album, the musical direction becomes blatantly evident. It’s that good old tried and true 1980’s traditional metal sound. This sound can fail hard; if the riffs aren’t catchy and lack those oh so important hooks. Fortunately for On Top the guitar work on this album is the main highlight. The riffs are chalk full of that eighties attitude, and are well written. It’s nothing new or groundbreaking, but they are more than sufficient to satisfy even the harshest of critics. They are catchy, hooky, and speedy enough to grab the listener and provoke them to wear skin tight leather pants. “Sleepless” is a great example of this. This track has everything one could want from this sort of sound. “Another Night Of Sleaze” displays that Iron Maiden galloping goodness that keeps you wanting more. As you continue through this album, you won’t be able to prevent yourself from bobbing your head and feeling the unavoidable groove that On Top display. Once again; this isn’t anything new by any means, but the guitar work is a solid display of traditional heavy metal … done right! You will be hard pressed to find any sort of complaint in the riffing department. Well done On Top!

The one thing that really detracts from the On Top experience is the vocals. You will find they start to really get annoying as the album goes on. It’s not that the vocalist’s voice is bad, it’s more so that the vocals sound strained and don’t fit what’s going on with the guitar. He uses a sort of burst style, where he belts out short lines, and it just doesn’t work at times. They aren’t exactly unlistenable but they aren’t very good. Although there are moments of glory, for example during “Up To No Good” the gang vocal style in the chorus is enjoyable and will have all the metalheads in the hall shouting along. Overall the vocals just don’t seem to jive with the songs, and do seem out of place; but as mentioned they do have their moments of glory. When they work it sounds great; and when they don’t … it’s just, not good.

Overall barring the vocals this is a well done album, where fans of this style will find enjoyment. The guitar work is excellent, the vocalist has his moments of greatness, and the songs are catchy enough. This isn’t the best traditional metal release you’ve ever heard, but it does have some worth. So go out, strap on your cowboy boots and your leather pants and bask in this retro worshipping slab of heavy metal!

(Horror Pain Gore Death Productions)

Fritz is co-host of the Axis Of Metal Podcast

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.