Sandstorm – Desert Warrior
Dying Victims Productions
CD, 12” vinyl and cassette formats
It was but the spring of 2020 when DYING VICTIMS unleashed SANDSTORM’s debut album, Time to Strike, onto the worldwide metal scene. Prior to that, the Vancouver-based band had self-released the album in early 2019, and while the initial run sold out quickly, it remained a diamond in the rough. But indeed, diamonds shine regardless, and soon enough did Time to Strike’s gleam reach all corners of the globe: here was glorious (and gloriously scrappy) pre-speed/thrash HEAVY METAL in the literally ancient, sword-wielding style so favored in the early ‘80s, rendered in such authentic (and authentically over-the-top) style, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this was some unearthed relic from the era. Word spread, and rightly, that SANDSTORM were the Real Deal.
And now, with the imminent release of Desert Warrior, SANDSTORM prove loudly that they are the REAL fucking DEAL! A swift-yet-generous record at 21 minutes, the four songs comprising Desert Warrior are thematically unified by classic late ‘60s / early ‘70s sci-fi tropes, and the power-trio suitably keep the focus squarely on riffs and atmosphere. Those riffs retain the same feeling as the full-length predecessor – nothing overdriven, everything moving at a hot-rockin’ pace – and where medieval magick ran riot across a strongly rock ‘n’ roll backbone, here do SANDSTORM evoke a strong sense of the epic and tragic. That Desert Warrior’s atmosphere is noticeably more moody takes nothing away from the metallic heights they reach; if anything, one could liken the mini-album to ghostly NWOBHM bordering on lonerist AOR, but still with a propensity to kick out the jams when needed. For proof, see the aptly titled “Evil Wins” and note the specter of Mercyful Fate floating nearby. Plus, the band aren’t monikered SANDSTORM for nothing: it was about damn time they did a record called Desert Warrior and made a musical mini-movie of sorts!
Still obscure and old-school as ever, SANDSTORM etch out an even more undeniable identity with Desert Warrior. Will you enter the wasteland with them?