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Originally formed in 1977 and hailing from Nakkila, Finland, the NWOBHM-inspired, Scandinavian Metal outfit, OZ has reemerged with their 8th studio album.  The band has weathered many tumultuous storms after the initial success of their prominent 1983 album, Fire in the Brain.  With numerous line-up changes throughout their career as well as drudging through a 20-year long hiatus, the band reformed in 2010.  Their latest album, Force Commandments, is the follow-up to their 2017 release, Transition State.  This is the inevitable second chapter of this new formation of the band, with the drummer, Mark Ruffneck as the sole founding member.

From the album’s full-throttle opener, “Goin Down” to Vince Koivula’s final window-shattering scream on “Liar”, the band shows no signs of clutching the brakes.  The dual guitar-attack of Juzzy Kangas and Johnny Cross powers through contemporaries.  Venturing into modern Power Metal territory on “Prison of Time”, they skillfully perform my favorite riff on the album.  Fist-pounding and enduring, “The Ritual”, is perhaps one of Koivula’s most powerful and enduring vocal performances in recent history. “Spiders” begins predictably enough, then quickly morphs into an unexpected and impressive Yngwie-esche, neo-classical opus.  Clocking in at nearly seven minutes, “Switchblade Alley” starts off with Peppi Peltola’s galloping bass riff laying a solid foundation for the band’s longest composition on the album.  The introspective, lighters-to-the-air, ballad “Long and Lonely Road”, rounds it out rather well.

With scorched leather on their backs and fresh blood coursing through their veins, OZ continues to surprise and excite with their latest Classic Metal release.  The production gives this album a warm, energizing vibrancy that never wavers.  Like stumbling upon a rare classic in a salvage yard full of tired vehicles, Forced Commandments is a surprising gem from one of Scandinavia’s most enduring Metal acts.


As always, rock on my friends!     Hunnypot Approved!     Overall Rating:  8.8 out of 10

Artist:  OZ,  LPForce Commandments  Release Date: March 24th, 2020,   Label: Massacre Records

Raul Soria Jr.

Photojournalist - Portland

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