When the NWOBHM genre started to get into the music magazines like Sounds, Kerrang etc and bands of that ilk were getting played on the Friday Rock Show, it was a very exciting time for me in my late teens. I bought as much as I could at the time but some bands slipped passed my radar. One of whom were Airforce.
The band were formed from the ashes of NWOBHM band E.L-34 who came to be in 1978 but split in the mid 80’s. Guitarist Chop Pitman got the band going with Tony Hatton on bass guitar and Mick Dietz on drums. Further line up changes saw ex-Iron Maiden drummer Doug Sampson joined after being recommended to them by none other than Steve Harris who arranged a meeting with him and Chop.
After a never ending entourage of lead vocalists, fast forward to the present day with that position being filled by the mighty roar of Flavio Lino and the release of a very impressive studio album Strike Hard, currently available on Pitch Black Records.
On digital and CD formats, its eleven tracks capture that NWOBHM vibe but with a modern cutting edge. Opening track ‘Fight’ has an earworm main riff coursing through its veins backed by a solid rhythm section. A histrionic lead vocal and laid back but still intense guitar solo makes for a headbanging heavy start.
‘Die For You’ has a marching into battle vibe that hits hard throughout this bruising epic. Drums seem to be pushed higher into the mix for the snares to snap hard. A majestic guitar solo makes it an early contender for the best track here.
‘Son Of The Damned’ is all gritty hard rock. The grooves creep up throughout this heavy chugger. It picks up the pace midway, backed up by some mighty “Whoa oh ohs” and a captivating lead vocal from Flavio.
The first of two special guest spots see Vision Divine vocalist Ivan Giannini share the vocals to make ‘The Reaper’, an already powerful song even more intense.
‘Finest Hour’ also defines their finest five minutes as they go for the throat, taking no prisoners for a NWOBHM drenched piledriver. It gallops along for a first passed the finishing post ending with Flavio hitting an immensely long outro scream.
The legendary Paul Dianno adds muscle with his vocal guest spot. Air guitars are a must here as it’s a tour de force of heavy metal.
Another main riff to die for raises its head in ‘I Feel Your Pain’. All melodic rock but still packs a punch!
‘War Games’ is a ballad with balls. After repeated plays (yes it’s that good), I was getting an Eastern feel to it with touches of ‘Diamonds And Rust’ in the melodies. A spotlight stealing vocal roars!
A chilling vocal sets the scene for ‘Band Of Brothers’. A poignant paean of camaraderie.
‘The War Inside’ is catchy but still crushes with a dominant main riff. A fist clenching vocal bombast is a real lung buster as five minutes fly by in an adrenaline rush of twenty four carat heavy metal.
It takes some bravery to cover ‘Faith Healer’ by The Sensational Alex Harvey Band but Airforce rise to the challenge and they metal it up with aplomb without losing the lunacy of the original. It’s a fitting end to a strong album!
Airforce band line up :-
Doug Sampson – Drums.
Flavio Lino – Lead vocals.
Chop Pitman – Guitar.
Tony Hatton – Bass guitar.
Strike Hard album track listing :-
Die For You.
Son Of The Damned.
The Reaper (featuring Ivan Giannini).
Don’t Look In Her Eyes (featuring Paul Dianno).
I Feel Your Pain.
Band Of Brothers.
The War Inside.
Faith Healer (CD bonus track, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band cover).
Links to the band can be found below :-