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?