If there was ever an artist in history who has done what Henry Metal has done in quite the same way, I cannot think of them. It’s somewhat muted comedy, perhaps, but it’s also a serious affair. While abrasive at times it is an honest voice, simultaneously the voice of, and a cry for, freedom. The chops are there, the hooks are there and the message is unmistakable – freedom is creativity, is art, is what it means to be human. Freedom is necessary.
Not only free to speak your mind in the most blunt and straight-forward way but free to explore ideas, histories, icons and symbols which we all share because we are all human. Plenty of “cultural appropriation” to complain about here but, after all, none of us came from nowhere and we’re not here for very long. The Viking, the Samurai, the Cowboy, the Spartan, the wizard, the deadlifter and the artist may face different challenges, but they all come to the same – a purification of the will and the unique freedom we have as humans to make a choice.
The Essential Henry Metal Vol. 1 is a well rounded album which, although over an hour long, seems to go by fast. It’s a collection of fifteen songs from his first five albums and a decent representation of their best. There is no wall-paper or ambient drone to be found – the riffs and hooks go somewhere from start to finish, every time. And nothing on the album is off-the-shelf in sound, mood or content, as the entire project was recorded on digital Tascam porta-studios in a deliberate effort to take computer editing out of the picture entirely and get down to musical brass tacks. It is Metal which falls closer to the Hard Rock spectrum and may be a touch “overly musical” at times for some hardcore Metal lovers, but it well represents the genesis of classic Metal from Ozzy and Dio through early Metallica. And again, the chops are here.
Henry Metal released three albums after this “greatest hits” compilation and it is my hope that there is more to come. His latest album “Henry Metal 8,” released back in 2018, is interesting but like many of his albums contains some misses for my taste. The same for the rest. I would love to see something come from the project which will truly put Henry in the ‘legend’ category and have heard that this is the intention. Only time will tell but the foundation is laid. In the meantime, if you are looking for an instant classic, I highly recommend checking out Henry Metal.