Album of the Week 13-2012: Picture – Warhorse

I love it when old bands get back together and do something that actually outdoes all of their older material. ‘Warhorse’ is one of those occasions. Picture is most likely Holland’s oldest Heavy Metal band and though they released some classic material in the early eighties – ‘Heavy Metal Ears’ and ‘Eternal Dark’ come to mind – they silently disappeared in the way so many bands did in the mid-eighties: by losing their interest in music altogether due to intense label pressure. Picture reunited a few years ago and released the decent ‘Old Dogs, New Tricks’ record, but the class and pure power displayed on ‘Warhorse’ is something no one could have expected.

Two new guitarists were enlisted for this album – former Vengeance guitarist Peter Bourboun and Detonation’s Mike Ferguson to be exact – and I’d have to think they brought Picture’s mojo back to the band. The riffs on ‘Warhorse’ stomp powerfully, the solos are spectacular and the sound just kicks you in the face. You need to look no further than the fantastic opening track ‘Battle Plan’ to come to that conclusion. This is what Heavy Metal’s supposed to be like, packed into well-written songs with big, hooky choruses.

But for me, the biggest treat is Pete Lovell. The Brit who sang on the classic ‘Eternal Dark’ album – of which the awesome title track is re-recorded for this album – is every bit as good as he was in the eighties, if not better. He’s got the power, the raspy edge and such an instantly audible love for the material he’s singing, that he lifts the already killer tunes to a higher level. And he’s even better live. Combined with him being possibly the most amiable front man I’ve ever seen makes him the perfect fit for today’s Picture.

Without exception, the songs on ‘Warhorse’ are amazing. Save from ‘Think I Lost My Way’, which is a lovely power ballad with amazing guitar solos sung expertly by Lovell, all the tracks are obligatory Heavy Metal tracks. With enough variation to keep things interesting. For instance, ‘The King Is Losing His Crown’ stands out due to its lower tempo, stomping lovingly, ‘Killer In My Sights’ is the album’s absolute highlight with it’s exciting structure and dark riffs, ‘My Kinda Woman’ and ‘The Price I Pay’ lean towards eighties Hardrock and ‘Edge Of Hell’ has these nice choral backing vocals in its chorus. It’s remarkable that the re-recording of ‘Eternal Dark’, though a classic track, doesn’t necessarily stand out. That’s how good it is.

So there it is, Picture outdid themselves with this one. And let’s just hope it’s not for the last time. With this lineup, Picture really struck gold. ‘Warhorse’ is by far the best classic Heavy Metal release from my home country in a long, long time. And the reason for that is the complete lack of pretense. The band just went out and wrote twelve unbelievably good Heavy Metal tunes. Paired with a crisp and heavy Oscar Holleman mix, there is really nothing to be desired except another Picture album after this!

Recommended tracks: ‘Killer In My Sights’, ‘Battle Plan’, ‘Edge Of Hell’, ‘War Horse’

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