Melodic, ‘80s-style metal lives on in many corners of the world, and Scandinavia is one of them. Did you ever hear about the hair metal revival scene in Helsinki that revolves around Hanoi Rocks’ Michael Monroe? Ok, that’s kind of a dated find so how about this: Ever heard of Big City from Norway? They’re a fairly new band that’s been holding down the amp-up-or-clamp-up old school flavour since their debut Wintersleep in 2013, following it up with Big City Life in 2018 and signing to Frontiers Records two years later. Now they’re back with their third record Testify X, a continuation of their familiar formula that’s equal parts old-fashioned fist-pump and timeless prog finesse.
Kicking things off is “The Rush”, an AOR throwback to Deep Purple’s Perfect Strangers with extra footwork to go. “Dark Rider” rides along this line as well while “Testify” lands closer to Jeff Scott Soto, vocals and all. We get the first bit of balladry with “I Will Fall”, leading into another round of harmonious riffing on “Running Away” and slick soloing on “Conception”. “Winds Of The Road” puts some prog into the mix a la Sons Of Apollo, offset by the straight-up metal of “Heart’s Like A Lion” and “Graveyard Love.” Capping off the record is “How Dark Does It Get”, a culmination of all the ingredients that make up this album- and this band- for one more melodic, climactic sweep.
While there’s nothing particularly standoutish about Testify X, what can be said is that it does what it’s supposed to do. Big City have a widely recognizable vintage lane that they’ve picked and the right label to market them correctly, so the goal isn’t to reinvent the wheel here but to keep the fire burning and have a good time doing it. In that respect, Big City do their job with this record and deliver the goods to the best of their ability, and with only three albums under their belt the only direction they can go from here, quality and maybe even commercial-wise is up.