Firstly, a big welcome back is in order. Oz have spent just under 20-years dormant before deciding to return to the studio for a follow-up to 1991′s Roll The Dice. Last year, drummer Mark Ruffneck (Pekka Mark), vocalist Ape De Martini and bassist Jay C. Blade (Jukka Lewis) decided to roll back the years and reformulate the Finnish heavy metal act alongside guitarist Markku Petander.
Burning Leather is retro – there’s absolutely no attempt from the metallers to update their sound with the times – and in an age where reinvention is a term batted from ear to ear in a self-conscious sweat, it’s perhaps with a great degree of charm that Oz return with this phoenix record.
Whilst this sixth album isn’t the greatest comeback we’ve ever heard, there’s old-school heavy metallers out there that will buzz from its rough recording quality, traditional sound and general nostalgic feel.
As soon as that play button switches, it’s like you’ve leaped back to the early 80′s – playing from an old vinyl in a booze-stinkin’, smoky room with the creaks of battered old leather jackets as beardy men lift bottles to their lips. Second track Search Lights outlines some historic context of their 20-year out in charismatic fashion while Gambler reveals Oz’s addiction to fist-pumping heavy metal but this time make it their finest moment.
Enter Stadium follows up and snakes into a more hard rocking style for a tune that is loosely anthemic and with one function – to remind everyone that this is a band that still mean business.
On the whole, this is a modest return to form from Oz. They should be commended for going through with a reunion that many would never have imagined. Exciting stuff for those immersed in 30-year-old NWOBHM.