Originally released in 2000 under the title "Nomad" (with minor track alterations), PAUL DI'ANNO's "The Living Dead" renewed my interest in a man that I revered for his work on the first two IRON MAIDEN albums, but whose subsequent projects (GOGMAGOG, BATTLEZONE, and KILLERS) passed me by with little notice. As such, I was excited to get the Magick Records (Cleopatra's metal imprint) release in the mail, and rightly so. "The Living Dead" is a no-bullshit, classic heavy metal album that benefits from memorable songwriting and is a kick in the shorts by DI'ANNO's surprisingly broad vocal range, which most importantly never loses its punky, working class edge.
Many of these songs are straightforward noggin busters made up of no-frills, rough-edged riffs and some white-hot soloing. The speedier tunes, such as "Madman in the Attic", "War Machine", and "Cold World" get straight to the point and are satisfying to boot, but it is a handful of the mid-paced numbers that allow DI'ANNO to showcase his bad boy snarl and fuck-off attitude, "Nomad" and "Brothers of the Tomb" (both effectively using backing shouts) just two examples. DI'ANNO's command presence is in top form on "S.A.T.A.N.", a nasty chugging beast that features the vocalist playing his role to the hit with lyrics like these: "Cry when your children die, and then I'll fuck your wife". There are many quality tracks from which to choose, including the emotional and moving title track, but "P.O.V. 2005" takes the cake. DI'ANNO's gigantic "Fuck Off" to fascists is righteously venomous, as he belts out lines like "You're tellin' me you're the master race, well I believe you're the world's disgrace" and generally advising those of a Nazi persuasion to engage in sexual intercourse with themselves. Well done, Paul. A cover of MEGADETH's "Symphony of Destruction" works fairly well and offers a few slight twists to the original version, while the bonus live recordings of MAIDEN's "Wrathchild" and "Phantom of the Opera" are certainly welcome additions to this fine collection.
As for the extras, the bonus DVD features a fun and informative interview with DI'ANNO that covers his entire career, including his stint with IRON MAIDEN. Paul also goes into some detail about his love for the South American heavy metal scene, its fans giving him the inspiration to record "The Living Dead". I found DI'ANNO to be down to earth, refreshingly honest, and likeable as hell. A video for the song "The Living Dead" is also included.
"The Living Dead" may actually live up to its billing, as I do believe it will appeal to traditional metal fans, regardless of the level of familiarity with Paul's work in IRON MAIDEN, provided you're not looking for new levels of metallic creativity. If you missed out on "Nomad", take this opportunity to pick up "The Living Dead". You will not be disappointed.