Sometimes you can tell a lot about a band by their touring activities. That’s most certainly the case with Poland’s Scream Maker. Almost a decade ago, they formed, and in that time, they’ve played with (amongst others) Priest, Saxon, and Paul Di’Anno. They also started the Ronnie James Dio Fest. They would have fit in just fine with all of that.

“Land Of Fire” is their fourth album, but it feels familiar like an old friend once the opening riff of “Perpetual Burning” kicks in. It’s desperate for a solo, and it’s had one before the vocals even start. Michał Wrona (the only one of the founding members left) and Bartosz Ziółkowski are formidable, and how typical of this genre of metal to have a twin axe attack (as it used to be called and in this case, still would be).

And when those vocals do start? Well, Sebastian Stodolak has the almost perfect voice for it. More Biff than Bruce, as it were, but if you were looking for someone to sing metal, look no further. It’s no fluke either. “Can’t Stop The Rain” underlines the class, and “Everybody Needs Illusions” operates in slightly more power metal areas – think Graham Bonnett in the studio – but it, like everything else here, leaves only one question: how long can Scream Maker be a best-kept secret?

The acoustics come out for “Zombies,” but not for long – although it’s still one of the more mid-paced tracks on the record, at least, before the solo soars anyway. “A Nail In The Head” belongs to drummer Tomasz Sobieszek, beating his drums to give this the air of a thrash band doing a Maiden cover, and “The Rider” sounds exactly like it should. That is to say, like a Euro metal band. Fans of bands like Rage need to get here immediately, frankly.

What Scream Maker is especially good at is switching gears and sounding like, first and foremost, they just love the music they play. “Dark Side Of Mine” exists in its harmonies and chugs, and thousands (millions?) of us have been listening to this sort of thing for years. But you know what? It doesn’t matter because we have Scream Maker, and this is the sound of fans playing what they love.

To that end, metal of this sort has always had an obsession with space, and “Way To The Moon” (a proper gallop, by the way) makes good on those fantasies to find the Final Frontier.

This album has some absolutely mighty guitar work, and its heaviest moment, the title track, has a real slab of a thing to start. Even though “See The Light” is from the more ‘80s end of what they do, it still pulls off the neat trick of sounding instantly recognisable.

I’m not sure what the world record for the most solos on an album is, but by the time the slower (note, it’s definitely not a ballad, it’s not that type of record) “Below” has finished, “Land Of Fire” can’t be far off breaking it.

And although there’s bound to be someone who tells me they’ve played millions of shows in the UK and I’ve just missed them, it would be wonderful to see this as the album that sees Scream Maker make waves in what amounts to their spiritual home.

Recently, basically because I’ve seen a lot of metal shows, I’ve started to rail against the term “NWOBHM.” Iron Maiden’s debut album came out 43 years ago, lads; it ain’t new. Let’s ditch the cliché. There are so many great newer bands who are proudly influenced by the classic sound that there must be something better we can say than to use the phrase Geoff Barton coined all those years ago.

If there really is something stirring and a load of bands ready to take the crown once the greats shuffle off, then it’s bands like Scream Maker who are keeping the denim and leather spirit alive.

Rating: 9/10

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