Ross The Boss - Born of Fire

Ross The Boss Born of Fire cover
Ross The Boss
Born of Fire
AFM Records
Ross Friedman, former Manowar guitarist, has released some decent albums in the past few years, in a style pretty close, but not aping classic Μanowar. He’s not been particularly lucky with singers, as the singer for the first couple of releases Patrick Fuchs was average at best, Mike Cotoia, with whom he appeared at KIT and a couple of other festivals, who sounded uncunningly like a young Eric Adams didn’t stay and Marc Lopes, who’s currently manning the mic, while not bad, while capable, is not exactly the charismatic type that would really make this material shine.
Closer to Death Dealer than anything else (another offshoot band of RTB with Cage’s Sean Peck), the songs that open the album, largely fail to make a lasting mark.
“Glory to the Slain” has decent riffs and a build, but Lopes seems to have trouble to keep up. If he had additional headroom in his range to harmonize over more lines, I feel it might have sounded better.
The gritty “Fight the Fight” has a nice riff, but its thrashier sound an groovier nature makes it neighbor with the more uninspired 90s moments of Overkill than anything else that seem to have lately returned.
“Denied by the Cross” is marginally better and more melody driven, but without managing to stand out in a meaningful way and might have worked out better as a DD track, imho.
“Maiden of Shadows”, wisely chosen as a single, has a more celtic intro and it’s epic melodies manage to keep it afloat the mediocrity that seems to characterize most of the album. Also Lopes is within his comfort zone here, with the results being in his favor.
“I Am the Sword” is not a cover of the Motorhead hymn. It’s a hard hitting double bass number, that again pushes Lopes into a singing mode, where he’s largely uncomfortable, relying in un-natural changes and screaming, that not only can be taxing to perform, but not always sound convincing. The song is okay, I guess.
“Shotgun Evolution” has a promising intro, but other than a couple of moments that I like, I found it to be rather repetitive, with a rather plain chorus that barely works.
The title track, “Born of Fire”, tries to get things back in order, but can’t decide if it wants to stay in mid-tempo or break out into a speedier number and this dichotomy, is its Achilles heel and ultimate downfall.
“Godkiller” has a riff that might have been nice for Manowar, along with some decent lines that Lopes doesn’t really convince delivering however.
“The Blackest Heart” is interesting with a dark sulfurous atmosphere, a menacing mid-tempo, some nice guitar leads and Lopes actually again sounding within his comfort zone, which allows him to be far more expressive than when he goes from growl to piercing falsetto, without a glissando. If only it had a more defined chorus… it would have been great, as its riff is reminiscent of “HTE” era Manowar.
“Demon Holiday” doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is sad, since musically it’s got some ideas that could go somewhere; its bad Annihilator vibe is not all that endearing, but then again, it wouldn’t have felt out of place in one of the Canadian’s latter day albums, so make of it what you will.
“Undying” is actually a more melodic and dynamic song, which has great potential and a chorus that a better singer, with more range, would have made an insta-classic. It’s not bad, but I wish it was Peck doing this one – and I ‘m not even his biggest fan. A great song, who’s appeal is diminished but lack of additional range.
“Walking the Moon” begins with a moody riff and a barrage of drums, but its lycanthropic meanderings don’t automatically turn it into a beast of the track.
A somewhat disappointing release with a few good songs and a couple could have been’s, unfortunately feels a little too little from a guy that actually introduced a good number of metalheads into worshiping rock. Here’s hoping that at some point relying and reliving on past glories won’t be the norm.