Satan’s Host: Virgin Sails

Classic US metallers reunite and get a second wind

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Forming in the 1977 and releasing one ludicrous rough diamond of bloodthirsty US power metal, 1986’s Metal From Hell, Satan’s Host soon lost ex-Jag Panzer vocal supremo Harry ‘The Tyrant’ Conklin to Titan Force and split up.

Reforming in 2000, Satan’s Host reinvented themselves with a new, growly vocalist as an occult black metal act, which didn’t wholly convince but wasn’t without merit. Now, though, Harry’s back, and with him a classy, quirky, rugged brand of epic traditional heavy metal – also, the band’s masterpiece.

Virgin Sails is an unexpected masterclass in classic HM dynamics, with crafty arrangements and spunky performances – none spunkier than The Tyrant himself. His voice is on career-best form, blazing with strength and conviction across a compelling set of full-throttle battle hymns, the band’s experience in extreme metal ensuring a more vicious attack than most in this idiom – and greater unpredictability.

A melodic passage evoking 70s Rainbow could give way to a blastbeat at any moment. And the drummer’s called Anthony Evil Hobbit. Album of the year, then?

Chris has been writing about heavy metal since 2000, specialising in true/cult/epic/power/trad/NWOBHM and doom metal at now-defunct extreme music magazine Terrorizer. Since joining the Metal Hammer famileh in 2010 he developed a parallel career in kids' TV, winning a Writer's Guild of Great Britain Award for BBC1 series Little Howard's Big Question as well as writing episodes of Danger Mouse, Horrible Histories, Dennis & Gnasher Unleashed and The Furchester Hotel. His hobbies include drumming (slowly), exploring ancient woodland and watching ancient sitcoms.