Genre: N.W.O.B.H.M./Heavy Metal
Country: U.K.
Label: Suspect Records
Year: 2016

It was about time to hear something new from the cult N.W.O.B.H.M. heroes from Mansfield. It took them 32 years to release the highly acclaimed by the Press and the audience compilation ‘Use Your Weapons Well’ -featuring 25 songs from Sparta’s whole career from 1979 to 1990- via High Rollers Records and it took them another 3 years to write their first-ever studio album entitled ‘Welcome To Hell’. So fortunately, we didn’t have to wait for so long for their sophomore full length. Under the name ‘No Retreat, No Surrender’ -via Suspect Records, their back in the days’ label that released the two 7” singles from 1980 and 1981 ‘Fast Lane’ and ‘Tonight’ respectively- we have a blasting album that will satisfy all lovers of pure British Heavy Metal. There’s no big secret behind this successful revival. You may think that I’m overreacting as I keep saying the same thing and returning to the same topic over and over again. But unfortunately, it seems that most bands that come from the 70’s-80’s forget why they were so big names or why they created all these great albums. It wasn’t the clear, clean-cut production damn it! It was the compositions, it was the feeling, and it was the damn songs!!! So now Sparta wisely decided to focus on the song-writing than spend useless effort trying to boost their sound with technological tricks. The raw, lo fi production makes the album heavier. There are 8 new tracks plus a great re-recording of the glorious 1981 gem ‘Lords Of Time’ (taken from the 1981 12” 4-way-split with Savage, Panza Division and Tyrant entitled ‘Scene of the Crime’ via once again Suspect Records) are showing a band that is living its second youth. There are some classical N.W.O.B.H.M. riffs spread all over the album while we can hear a lot of Sabbath and AC/DC elements too. We can’t demand from Sparta to write another ‘Wild Touch’ but still these guys can write some brilliant hard rocker tunes like ‘Dark Of Your Mind’ and ‘Right To Fight’. ‘Victory’, ‘Land Of Mystery’ and ‘Flight Of The Storm King’ have a more heavy metal approaching with an epic aura. ‘Stand Up for Heavy Rock and Metal’ is really cool despite the fact that it has a rather cheesy title and theme. These guys really know how to rock and should have a wider acceptance from today’s metal fans and play to bigger audiences and not just be a band for nostalgic Brofest-like fests.

4/6