South Africa’s Deadline has a dedication to one thing and one thing only – pure, unadulterated, old-school heavy metal (the way Ozzy used to make it). Much like many of the bands in the global NWOTHM (New Wave Of True Heavy Metal) scene, such as Enforcer, Cauldron, Eternal Champion, and Satan’s Hallow, the focus is on keeping the original spirit and sound of heavy metal alive whilst putting their own spin on it. Over the past six years, they have built up a strong local following, and their 2017 full-length debut, Black Wolf City, was one of the best releases of that year and an important part of the modern South African metal scene evolution.
Besides obviously looking the part (battle jackets, bullet belts, etc.), their sound is an amalgamation of many influences, all filtered through the fine, polished steel mesh of classic heavy metal, all bowing before the Iron Maidens, Judas Priests, and Accepts of the world. Also added in there are the attitude of thrash, the atmosphere of Cradle Of Filth, the flashy technique of ‘80s guitar shred, and the pure energy of Canadian speed metal in all its glory. It’s a sound that, at the end of the day, belongs all to Deadline with all their personality intact, and that’s where the party is at.
After the creepy title track intro (huge Mercyful Fate points awarded there), Cathedral Point kicks straight into the riffs with “Hope N’ Pray,” a real barnstormer with a catchy chorus, laced with melody and vocal layers. With three guitarists, the album is full and varied in the guitar department, and this was the perfect song to lead us down the garden path as all guns are firing, especially in the solos. “Dark Divination” is, as the name implies, a darker and heavier dirge that really channels the Priest influence. It is a mature slab of molten steel that discards the idea that heavy metal is a joke wrapped up in dragons and cheese, and it is loaded with oceans of technique and carefully-composed music – metal for folks with a brain and a heart, if you will.
“Before I Die” is the first single, and they couldn’t have made a better choice. It’s one of the faster and more epic tracks on the album, held down with weight in the rhythm section and blown to the cosmos with the guitar interplay and impressive vocals. “High-Tops & Bullet Belts” is a tribute to the majestic ‘80s teenage years of the genre that was released as a single and video last year to much love from the fans, and it has been given a new mix and master to make it one of the highlights of Cathedral Point. “Only The Strong Survive” and “Clandestine” are strong and meaty tunes that continue the march to battle, but the record really makes its stamp in the final two songs, “Shapeshifter” and “The Watcher.” Both take the metal levels even higher and pull the listener in with interesting pockets of sound and chest-beating fury, all the while keeping those Maiden-esque melodies high in the mix.
Jessy Switchblade has a unique voice that takes the histrionics of David Bower of Hell fame and both the growl and falsetto of the mighty King Diamond, and pumps in a bunch of personal influences to make for one of the most distinctive voices in South African metal. Baz Steel (bass) and Dizzy Styxx (drums) are as solid as foundation concrete in the rhythm section – nothing too showy, but they clearly understand groove and how a song is built. As with modern Iron Maiden, Deadline takes everything to the max with three guitar players (Raven Chaos, Judge Mental, and Skullprit), and it is with this barrage of strings where the album comes alive. The riffs are tight and heavy, and the leads and solos are blistering from beginning to end, flashy when the song allows but otherwise highly musical and hummable. The mix and production are well-balanced without any instrument ignored and bring the flood of rivet-popping metal straight at you from the get-go, and warm throughout.
With Cathedral Point, Deadline have upped the ante from their debut and evolved into the premium classic/retro heavy metal band in the South African scene, and could make a deep footprint internationally if they play their cards right. The results of the hard work involved in writing and making the album are all there deep in the wax, and it’s a real pleasure to revisit with repeated listens. 2020 may be a car-crash of a year for the planet, but Deadline has made it a shitload more fun to weather with this hugely entertaining sonofabitch. It’s a gem, folks!
Cathedral Point Track Listing:
1. Cathedral Point
2. Hope N’ Pray
3. Dark Divination
4. Before I Die
5. High-Tops & Bullet Belts
6. Only The Strong Survive
9. The Watchers
Run Time: 43 minutes
Release Date: June 26, 2020
Record Label: BloodKrieg Records