Ambush - Firestorm

Ambush Firestorm cover
High Roller Records
Apparently there must be some button in Sweden where you press it and a band is formed every time that happens, or I can’t find an easy way to explain how almost half the population of that country seems to be involved in bands... :D
Ambush (who hail from Växjö and should not be confused with another Swedish Ambush that disbanded years earlier also playing heavy metal – leaving a sole full length album in the mid-80s) are a rather capable quintet, that performs this retro sort of metal that’s inspired largely by classic bands of the 80s. They are in that respect quite reminiscent of fellow Swedes Ram and Enforcer, only they seem to be a lot more controlled, which on one hand, makes them not as exciting as say Enforcer, but on the other hand it helps them avoid, sounding as “in your face” and sort of not as polished as their counterparts.
All of their members Oskar Jacobsson (vocals), Olof Engkvist (guitars), Adam Hagelin (guitars), Ludwig Sjoholm (bass) and Linus Fritzson (drums) have previous experience in other bands and that shows, although I am willing to bet – some or most of them, must be relatively young. They are not hapless, but they’re far from being called seasoned, maybe the most acquired taste would be Jacobsson’s thin vocals that often resolve to falsetto to reach those higher notes, when they’re not antagonized, by the – guitarists (I would presume, vocals) on certain lines, in quote-response format. At any rate, he’s not worse than that Olof dude from Enforcer, it’s just a question of how long these guys might be able to maintain this high octane style – as they don’t seem to be singing with some great technique, overall. Unless they’re really found a way to totally not hurt their vocal chords or are naturally tenors, this might take its toll before long.
In terms of the songs, the album has some “winners” like the fast and furious opener and title-track “Firestorm” or the duet of songs from the preceding single the equally fast b-side “Heading East” with its impressive high pitched shrieks and wails and the epilogue track, the more measured “Natural Born Killers” that gave its name to the single as well, which has a bit of a more classic, sharp riff and feels a bit more threatening being a bit more reminiscent of Teutonic stuff. In between there are stuff like the more “poser” anthem “Ambush” that borders a bit between a hymnal and self-parody and the subsequent “Hellbound” that is somewhat weaker and seemingly a bit more rock influenced than one might have expected...
“Don’t Shoot - Let ‘em Burn”, tries to be something like a fast paced – Riot sort of inspired tune, but the riffs and general feel, while they get “close” don’t manage to replicate, the same exact feeling that the Americans did manage to convey, on albums like “Thundersteel”, for instance.
“Close My Eyes” is a another melodic slab of metal that seems to have a nice enough chorus and commercial aspirations, but the insistence of Jacobsson to do a silly vocal ascent seems completely jerky and uncalled for, as it’s anti-climatic within the context of the song.
“Molotov Cocktail” is again slightly wimpy and borderline poser-y, not really being as hair metal as say Poison, but hey, there’s a sneaky suspicion that between the Manowar and Running Wild album spins the odd Motley and Ratt ones also got to spin “Round and Round”!
That leaves us only with the “Master of Pain” un-commented, which is a mightily impressive song – as it is the sole slower song on the album and it actually seems to be one that works quite well, allowing the entire band to come up with better ideas. The riff’s sharp, the rhythm tight and the vocals are vital and virile! I like it quite a bit.
Quite a good album of classic metal, well worth checking out.