Maine power trio Ogre’s Dawn Of The Proto-Man debut was a delightful oddity in 2003, pre-dating modern metal’s obsessive-compulsive retro trends and landing as if via a wormhole in time from a hot, smoky basement circa 1974.
Now that the novelty value of bands with scrupulously calculated, artificially aged sounds, sleeves and wardrobes has long since worn off, The Last Neanderthal reminds you that Ogre still do this sort of thing with more skill, savvy, love and craft than most. Diamond-hard fuzz guitars chop out meaty riffs that straddle the early doom undulations of Sabbath, the lively interplay of mid-70s hard rock and the flailing gallop of prime NWOBHM. The high, wild vocals conjure Ozzy and Bon Scott.
A tight, bonded rhythm section, infectious hooks and much sweatily glorious axe-wizardry all comes together seamlessly on epic future classics Bad Trip, Warpath and The Hermit. But although Ogre’s hearts lie in the metal’s early daze, production is powerful, heavy and contemporary, best 21st-century comparison perhaps being sainted cult warriors Slough Feg with a touch of Goatsnake. Killer, then.