Sultan- Check & Mate (Divebomb Records)

Check this classic metal record out... Mate.

Ah the 80s'. For some of us younger whippersnappers it may as well have been a mythical age, a time when Gods walked the earth and all metaldom stood united and proud (I did say "mythical"). With that said, there really was a staggering number of classic albums and amazing bands that come into existence in that decade and more than one that deserved better slipped through the cracks of history.

One such example is the album I'm going to be looking at today. Sultan's Check & Mate is the sole release from this long-forgotten Swiss act. Originally released in 1990 (the 80s' didn't really end until 92) this album had been out of press for nearly 20 years, before Divebomb Records stepped up to re-release it to stem the tide of bootleg copies in the underground.

The sound on Check & Mate is very much based on NWOBHM riffs coupled with the speed of the then burgeoning Euro power metal movement. Opener Falcon demonstrates this style perfectly with it's Saxon meets Helloween stomp. Vocalist Dragi Majstorovic delivers his lines with a very pronounced European inflection (Fal-cone) that leaves me thinking of a discount Michael Kiske. He comes across as a very typical mid-tier power vocalist, there's nothing particularly impressive about him, but he gets the job done.

The real attraction here is the guitar work of David Pariat and Marc Bugnard. The album functions best when they're spitting out Accept/Saxon/Maiden styled riffs and harmonies at high speeds such as on the instrumental Whizzer, the catchy Shout in the Fight and the song that wins the award for greatest title ever, Night Knights (seriously, take a moment and repeat that title out loud). There's tonnes of delightfully adorable naivete on this album that makes it a lot of fun. However, that also works in detriment to the band when they try to be a bit more earnest. For example, the faux-ballad Mary stinks to high heaven of over-ripe cheese.

This little metal relic might not be a priceless treasure, but for any archaeologists out there, it will make a worthy addition to your display case.