HELD UNDER - DYING BREED (Stormspell Records)

 

                              (Review by Officer NIce)

Thanks to Stormspell Records some of those well-hidden or forgotten US Power Metal jewels are re-released and even re-mastered. To be honest I'm worried about the amount of those masterpieces we have missed thanks to the bashing of True Metal in the nineties. As far as I see the denying is still going on, also by the so called important Metal Media who are too much influenced by the big labels and their money. I can only thank Stormspell Records for the good work they're doing, worshipping the true spirit of US Metal and giving bands like Amulance, Cauldron Born and this Hell Under a second chance.

 

Held Under is a band that was already formed in the eighties but under the name of Discovery. Mike and Patrick Stevens are brothers, bonded by blood and Metal, who felt the strength of the Heavy Metal spell in the eighties. Overwhelmed by this kind of music they started their own formation. Influenced by the American Metal scene at that moment, thinking about bands like (especially) Leatherwolf, Liege Lord, a bit of Helstar and Fifth Angel, Metal Church (the Mike Howe era), they created their own original songs. I must admit the first tunes blew me away because these guys are performing songs the way I like it so much.

As a big fan of US Power Metal I hear high energetic melodic songs, ripping guitars, fast fingered emotional guitar solos, plenty of breaks, clean vocals (similar to Mike Olivieri) with high soaking screams (the American way!),... Held Under is receiving the goal to mix technical elements with good structured rhythms and melodic parts. What does a fan need more to be satisfied? Right! 'Screaming Down The Wires', the mighty 'Aggressor' Nation' (what a song!), the fast 'Tomorrow And Forever' are the perfect songs to make this album one of the most precious one for the next months. The album also contains a very good Judas Priest cover, 'Tyrant'.

 

Nevertheless Discovery wasn't able to break through in the eighties. Although a demo was recorded they couldn’t convince a label. In Seattle, the capital of the horrible grunge scene, they didn't receive honest chances in a period when true Metal was as good as dead. It seems the band played a lot of gigs but nothing helped. Meanwhile the band name changed to Dorian Gray and into Held Under. The band released a private pressing cassette, because of the lack of interest but it became a well-hidden treasure in the Heavy Metal movement. Since the very beginning several members left and were replaced. Misfortune seems to be the fate for these guys as Steve Oliver (drums) suffered problems with his heart and Mike Stevens got involved in a grave car accident what makes it impossible to sing in the future.

 

We can't tell if there is still a future for Held Under, maybe this release will change their destiny. After multiple listens to this first class CD I can only hope for it. On this release you can hear a re-mastered version of the original Held Under album and an extra CD with the entire Discovery history, inclusive the ''New Horizons'' demo. This release is a 'must have' for every US Power Metal fanatic. Fantastic release!

 

My Points: 95 / 100