Album Review

Andrew Lee’s Heavy Metal Shrapnel (Nameless Grave Records/Productions TSO, 2021)

Andrew Lee’s Heavy Metal Shrapnel is a time capsule that brings the 80s sleaze back  baby! If you love ripping, shredding solos, then you only need to wait 5 seconds before the face melting begins. As the name implies, this is truly a proper homage to the legends of the infamous Shrapnel Records roster.

Andrew Lee's Heavy Metal Shrapnel album cover

With 9 tracks, standing at 33 minutes, this an all killer no filler album where the songwriting is to the point and the outstanding guitar work can remain the focus  throughout. Heavy Metal Shrapnel is obviously a massive departure from Ripped to Shreds (do you see what I did up top now?), but do not think for a second that this album is a wankfest for wanking purposes. HMS remains incredibly musical at all times; each voice carries purpose, and there are head-bangable riffs all over. Andrew handles the bass duties too, and while they typically follow guitars, there are sneaky moments of brilliance for the astute listener. The drumming by Alex Zalatan of Zealotry sits perfectly in the mix – and there’s even a blast beat thrown in on the title track! I absolutely adore the synth work (also by Andrew) on the album; it slathers the tracks in even more 80s, creates some incredible textures in the music, and does some impeccable lead trade-offs with the guitars witha saw tone EVH would be proud of.

Andrew’s technique is absolutely impeccable; his phrasing and feel are top notch. The second track, “Faster Than A Laser Bullet”, is damn near nothing but a single guitar track the majority of the song and truly showcases his playing ability. Tracks like “In the Valley of the Time Tombs” allow him to show off his versatility and soaring melodic playing a la Tony MacAlpine. My only small gripe is how abruptly some songs end and wanting a bit more resolve at the end of the track; but I did find myself quickly getting over it as soon as the next riff kicked off.  Heavy Metal Shrapnel also features guest solos from Harlan (Hagamoto, Desairologie, etc.), Antoine Daigneault (Ch’theilist, Serocs, etc.) and Phil Tougas (First Fragment, Ch’theilist, Atramentus, and 46 other sick projects). 

Across the board, Heavy Metal Shrapnel is a remarkable display of skill, highly engaging for the listener, and a wildly enjoyable listen with some fantastic fucking song titles. Physical copies of Heavy Metal Shrapnel are available on CD through Andrew’s label, Nameless Grave Records, and on cassette through Tougas’ label, Productions TSO. 

FFO: George Lynch, Tony MacAlpine, Cacophony, the 80s, ripping lines off a stripper’s butt, neon, and spandex.

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