For those about to rock … hang on just a sec. Take AC/DC out of the tape deck of your Firebird and, assuming you’ve added a CD player at some point in the last 25 years, pop in Hell Devil! by Amadis, and get ready to redline your fucking engine. The latest from Burlington’s reigning cock-rocking metal maniacs is a scorching tour de force. It is a brisk, bracing three-song sampler that serves as a powerful reminder of just how potent Vermont metal can be.
Following a glorious, borderline-orchestral instrumental intro track — complete with transcendent guitars and a cannonade of thunderous drums — the EP begins in earnest with “Heavy Metal World.” The song explodes from the washout of the previous cut like a freight train about to run off the rails. Frantic, staccato guitar bursts drive forward at breakneck speed. Vocalist Sid Dystic holds court over the proceedings with malicious zeal. His soaring tenor squeals and howls with unhinged abandon, not unlike a young Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden. But that band is a less obvious influence on Amadis than one might think, given that certain members moonlight in the local Maiden tribute band Made in Iron. Rather, the group takes cues from a slightly earlier era of metal, when bands like Judas Priest and Thin Lizzy were terrifying teenagers’ parents.
Amadis also bear an affinity for more relatively recent strains of the genre, including power metal, evident on the bruising title track. The song is slower in tempo than the preceding ditty, but no less intense. Over a deliberate, churning current of chunky guitar, Dystic shows impressive vocal range. He is as compelling a front man in lower registers as he is unleashing manic screams. Here, he combines both talents to great effect, framed by a chorus of backing harmonies and a maelstrom of guitar fury courtesy of axemen J.J. Harris and Franky Vitriol.
Of course, any great metal album, or even just a sampler, is not complete without an overblown epic. At nearly eight minutes, closing track “The Last Gaul” is just that. A pretty — yes, pretty — acoustic guitar line sets the bait before Amadis spring the trap with a virtual clinic on heavy-metal technical precision. Drummer Johan Sebastian Rock and bassist Gustavus Adolphus are in lockstep throughout, holding down the song’s hairpin turns as Vitriol and Harris trade increasingly Malmsteen-esque lead lines. Even if you’re not a fan of metal, you can’t help but appreciate the virtuosity on display here, and throughout Hell Devil!
Catch Amadis at City Limits in Vergennes with Victim of Metal, this Saturday.