If you’ve been waiting since the late ’70s, listening to hundreds of new groups and recordings during that time, trying to capture that old feeling of sitting down with a rock album that took you on a journey to a higher place where musical genres and boundaries melted away for the greater glory of sheer adrenalin pumping emotion. If rare albums like those were addictive for you, requiring many listens to unravel deeper mysteries and joys. Then you will not be disappointed with the progressive metal album “Henry Metal 8” because, Henry Metal has done it again, and for the tenth time in a row. This album is the modern and heavier version of the creativity we all loved during the progressive rock era. The music flows well and is intelligent from beginning to end.
“Henry Metal 8” is one of very few to succeed fully in the same way and on virtually every level for me. You’ll realize how much you’d missed sitting down for a spell with such engaging music that shines from that captivating higher place. Every element here seems just right, flowing seamlessly, and the world suddenly seems better.
It’s hard to describe the 8 tracks here without sounding a bit unhinged with excitement, but that’s the feeling I got from this effort. Trying to explain exactly why “Henry Metal 8” stuns me would be an overwhelming task. Suffice to say that the masterful balance of composition, musicianship, and production strikes me most of all, with a special nod to the brilliant guitars and vocals throughout.
The insightful and oddball lyrics (think Tenacious D), the extended instrumental excursions (think early King Crimson), the lush harmonies (think early Yes), the constant attention to the swing of emotional highs and lows (think early Genesis), and the crushing riff-rich landscapes (think Metallica and Slayer), as well as the bombastic operatic-like performances (think Meatloaf), are all coming from that great place above. Every note and beat matters here.
Since he started in 2017, Henry Metal has certainly proven himself to be a master composer, arranger, lyricist, performer, producer, engineer, and virtually every other role that applies. While I’ve definitely enjoyed his previous efforts, this one’s special.
“Henry Metal 8” is likely a recording he’ll be remembered for – the moment his many roles and skills merged into something larger and magical. At least that’s my take after some totally addictive listening.
The album opens with “Robes 8”, in an almost offhand way, with building piano and organ keys leading us towards the incumbent pandemonium that awaits us, and from there moves all over the rock n’ roll map. Tracks are both beautiful and extremely aggressive.
And while “Sparta” forges an epic metal backdrop, its “I Got The Fever” that unleashes Henry Metal’s beastly guitar chops – from fiery soloing to unbridled shredding, this upbeat track has got it all. The gritty “Bodhisattiva” unfolds all of Henry’s singing prowess as his voice scales dizzying heights, reminding me of Toto in full vocal swing during their heyday.
If you dig relentless rhythms, and intense energy, doused with a dose of classic rock melody, then “Gotta Get Back To Chicago” is your cut. The bombastic roar of “Propaganda” hides some wickedly clever lyrics, so you should be reminded to hit replay a couple times to catch the gist of the narrative.
“Winberry Lavender” is one of my favorite tracks on the album – vocally, musically and lyrically, it is a stunningly impressive composition. Ironic, melodic, and richly layered in rock’s lushest electrifying instruments, this is a song Meatloaf would beg, steal and borrow, to have in his catalog.
“Raven” is a thrashing five minute rock n’ roll opera, with Henry Metal’s roving guitar work grabbing center stage. It’s a fitting end to a charging and deceptively clever album. An interwoven masterpiece of high octane power, the production and craftsmanship is second to none on “Henry Metal 8”, as after 10 albums, fans of Henry Metal have come to expect.