Loyal to None by Herman Frank
Release date : February 2009
Reviewed by Anthony Morgan
Herman Frank, known for his guitar contributions upon Accept's 1983 full length Balls to the Wall, as the founder of Hanover, Germany outfit Victory, and as a producer of albums by such artists as Saxon, Rose Tattoo and Molly Hatchet, met with Metal Heaven Records personnel. These personnel mentioned the possibility of a solo album, something which Frank agreed to write. From March to June 2008, Loyal to None was composed, mixed and produced by Frank at the man's own Arena 20 Studios in Hanover. Victory frontman Jiotis Parachidis (ex-Human Fortress) supplies vocals, Running Wild's Peter Pichl occupies bass, and Stefan Schwarzmann (ex-Krokus) steps behind the drumkit.
From its very inaugural note, opening composition “Moon II” races out of the tracks courtesy of a blistering, lightning paced solo that spans roughly twenty seconds. Quick, blistering solos additionally erupt midway into the cut, and midway into the likes of “7 Stars” and “Lord Tonight”, with third number “Father Buries Son” lying in much the same vein. Nothing specific can be noted regarding Herman Frank's solos, other than the fact the guitarist is immensely capable, his presence ever bountiful upon Loyal to None.
An appropriate choice of frontman, Jiotis Parachidis' vocals upon Loyal to None carry a gritty, edgy facet. Boasting much bite, the clean vocals can irrefutably lend angst much needed emotion, emotion that proves itself to be genuine. “Listen to this motherfuckers” Parachidis defiantly roars during “7 Stars”' opening, and it'd be extremely interesting to see the vocalist convey such feelings as part of a live performance. Harmonic, backing vocals lend Parachidis support during each respective chorus. Adequate support, the backing vocals would nonetheless benefit from additional strength in terms of quality. Upon the verses however, is where Parachidis' vocals particularly shine. Backing vocals thankfully don't intrude, and nor does Frank's guitar. Backed by a lone, decent riff, and left to occupy the limelight, Parachidis' vocals run riot, as can be heard upon such cuts as “Moon II”, “7 Stars”, “Father Buries Son” and “Hero” amongst others.
Each respective chorus upon Loyal to None is impressively solid, but most fail to be overtly anthemic, or memorable, in most instances. However, exceptions to the rule apply, particularly the choruses authored in support of “Heal Me” and “Kill the King”. Slower, and more moderately paced, “Heal Me” proves more arresting, and is more maturely penned. Parachidis is the track's focal point, and Frank appropriately exhibits restraint. In this specific instance, Frank's presence is wholly justified, and the virtuoso doesn't spoil the track via pretense. “Down to the Valley” adopts a faster tempo which sprints along, and “Lord Tonight” only slightly lessens this pace.
Should you like to hear virituoso guitarists flex their muscles as part of a solo outing which features a capable supporting cast, then Loyal to None could potentially be of sufficient interest. The album's purpose was to cast the spotlight upon Frank's axework, but Parachidis steals the man's limelight. Arguably, Frank sometimes outstays his welcome upon a marginal level, as might be the case upon the inaugural cut. All in all though, whether this is the case depends upon the palette of the listener in question. Of the tracks featured upon Loyal to None, all prove to be strong full length cuts, but fail in the struggle to achieve single status. Having said that, Loyal to None's tracks happen to be extremely solid when critiqued as a whole entity. Nonetheless, Loyal to None's songwriting could actually be stronger in several areas. A more varied collection would've proved more interesting - for example, it'd be extremely intriguing to hear Frank handle an extremely slow, emotional ballad where Parachidis' vocals have minimal musical backing. Should Frank opt to cut future solo outings, it'll be curious to hear the group's strength and chemistry grow, something which might spawn weightier material. For now though, Loyal to None is a decent, respectable album.