Oz – Transition State (2017)

Oz

Transition State

AFM Records

Since 1982, these Finnish come Sweden heavy metallers have been playing a style of rock very similar to the early days of Priest, Saxon, Accept and Iron Maiden among many others. They disbanded in ’91 but resurfaced in ’11 with a brand new album entitled Burning Leather. Now six years later we have another effort from the guys in Transition State. Let me tell ya, if you love the sound of classic heavy metal with an exceedingly warm production and strong hard-hitting choruses, then you’re going to find something here. I also have to note that many of the leads and solo efforts on this record are quite brilliant, showing off the immeasurable strengths of Johnny Gross and Juzzy Kangas. These guys are all new to the table, as well as bassist Peppy Peltola and even their frontman Vince Kojvula. As a matter of fact, the only surviving member from the classic lineup is Mark Ruffneck, who managed to put together a rather suitable crew of musicians in retrospect. Kojvula has a pleasant falsetto that just seems to fit, especially on the incredible bonus cut I’m listening to right now, “Whore Of Babylon.” If your disc doesn’t have this one, you’d better go out and find a disc that does; because not only is the guitarwork simply staggering in it’s neoclassical sense, but the vocal presence is absolutely remarkable. Though in all fairness, let’s talk about a cut like “Restless” which should be found on standard copies of the album. It chugs with all the might of Painkiller-era Priest, but has some added acoustic influence to back what is one hell of a killer chorus line. Even on this one, Kojvula sings his ass off and that’s what sells an album. Have you ever sat down and listened to a record and said to yourself, “Wow, that guy can really sing?” Well, that’s the same way I feel about this one. I’ve already told you that the new axemen can shred with the best of them, so the end result is just plain potent. While I don’t see many metalheads talking about classic and power metal in the way that I used to, I can definitely say that classic metal fans would be fools to pass up this level of performance. Transition State sounds like all of the strong classic discs that I’ve been jamming recently, like Strong Arm Of The Law, Eternal Prisoner and British Steel. If that sounds good to you, then you’re going to eat up numbers like “Drag You To Hell” and “In The Shadow Of A Shotgun” which has a major Hammerfall feeling to it. To be honest, there are classic heavy metal references strewn all throughout this one and I don’t think I could be any happier with it.

There are a few issues that I have with it though, which is mainly the odd choice of bonus track placement. I’ve mentioned this about Nuclear Blast and never expected AFM to be a similar culprit as I’m a big fan of their artists and what they stand for in this industry – but why would you ever take out a cut that was meant to be the fifth track on the album? I’m talking about “Whore Of Babylon” again, which is a real standout and certainly not a B-Side. Adding to that, “Sister Red” kicks the hell out of “Never Close Your Eyes” which I’d kick out of the bed in a heartbeat. The leads are an absolute standout here, with the chorus equally powerful. I just don’t see why the label or band felt this was only good as a B-Side and it’ll suck that the guys will never play such a killer track during their live shows. I’ll say this though, if I ever see Oz live, I hope they play this one as those melodies are just absolutely killer. I’m not sure which of the two guitarists are responsible for the leads here, but someone needs to pat the guy on the back. Along with “Whore Of Babylon”, this cut is one of my favorites. I’m actually going to throw it on my personal playlist, because it’s something that I can really jam on repeat for awhile. That’s become exceedingly rare for me as of late, so it’s a major compliment to the band as a whole. In any case, you’ll only be missing out on these tracks if you bought the overpriced vinyl version of this album, so I commend AFM on this decision to keep people buying CDs and not having them fall for the vinyl trap that so many people I know are helplessly sinking money into. That being said, OZ have crafted a killer little disc here and I’d definitely recommend listening to it. As I said, I’m going to play the shit out of “Sister Red” but there are a slew of memorable cuts here for fans of classic metal both old and new, to enjoy.

(13 Tracks, 57:00)

8/10

Purchase Here (Season Of Mist Shop)

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