THUNDER WAY — The Order Executors (review)

THUNDER WAY — The Order Executors album cover Album · 1993 · Power Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
Of all the modern European nations, perhaps none has been as defiantly resistant to change and modernization as the small enclave of Albania situated smack dab across the Adratic Sea from Italy and on the northern border of Greece. Steeped in traditionalism and a culture that is distinct from any other, Albania hasn’t exactly been a hot bed for modern musical expressions but a few staunch souls found their way into the modern world with the band THUNDER WAY having become one of the nation’s best examples of a cult classic.

This band was founded in Tirana by the ex-Megaherz guitarist Bledar Sejko in 1992. As Megahertz, only three songs were recorded but by the time the lineup grew to six members which also included Mit’hat Laro (bass), Roland Fusha (drums), Dritan Xheladini (guitars), Alban Laro (keyboards) and vocalist Elton Deda, the band changed its name to THUNDER WAY and was more than ready for primetime with a keen modern interpretation of modern power metal launched by Helloween in the mid-1980s. Given the band’s isolation and non-existent market for heavy metal music in the final years of the nation’s communist regime, THUNDER WAY only managed to release this sole album THE ORDER EXECUTORS but wow did they make their one statement count!

This album was self-released in 1992 and was technically only a demo but has rightfully earned a cult following as one of Albania’s most technically proficient and more interesting releases from a nation with zero infrastructure for promoting such bands. The album itself was recorded in neighboring Macedonia at a studio in Skopje. THE ORDER EXECUTORS is the perfect example of a band that was fueled on sheer passion and determination alone. Despite all the odds THUNDER WAY managed to write, record and release a true underground gem of early power metal splendor. The band only lasted two years from 1993-95 but did enjoy national success having won first place at the Albanian rock festival but with a limited population of only around 3 million at the time didn’t exactly set the world on fire despite national popularity.

Despite the band’s limited appeal, THUNDER WAY was wise enough to craft lyrics in the English language and tackled the typical fantastical power metal themes that included war, mysticism and the struggles of life under a repressive political regime. Despite the exotic fact of geographical location, THUNDER WAY was a typical early power metal band in many ways. Obviously inspired by such German acts as Helloween, Running Wild and Blind Guardian as well other other acts such as early Omen, THUNDER WAY still managed to stand out with its own unique mix of innovation which included idiosyncratic dual guitar attacks, sophisticated interludes, intros and deviation from the power metal norm. The band was quite accomplished and had it emerged in a more conducive region of the world such as Germany or the USA, surely would’ve become one of the 90s best examples of power metal.

Although a mere demo turned EP, THE ORDER EXECUTORS exhibits a decent production and mixing job for the time and place it was created. While not polished to the point of modern standards, the album competently integrates cleaner psychedelic moments with the thundering gallops of the guitar-driven speed / power metal moments and heavy metal bombast that evokes moments of not only the early power metal world but also the classic sounds of Iron Maiden, Manilla Road, Judas Priest and Fates Warning. The album features the expected melodic and dramatic twists and turns that any good power metal album requires but also features a multitude of unexpected moments that deviate from the norm. The production is adequate for the style but has enough lo-fi grit to give that unpolished speed metal fury in the vein of 80s extreme metal bands.

Rightfully considered the best metal band to ever have emerged from the tiny nation of Albania, THUNDER WAY has more than earned its status as a cult legend hailing from a remote land under the worst conditions, a fact that give this power metal battle and ever more triumphant victory on the larger global battlefield. All in all this album came as a true surprise in how masterful the band was at weaving together a classic sounding power metal album in the vein of Helloween’s “Keeper of the Seven Keys” dynamism without sounding like a clone. While Elton Deda’s vocal range may not be as octave-rich as Michael Kiske or other power metal singers, his vocals perfectly suit this grittier power metal sound. While this may not exactly be the undiscovered masterpiece of the ages, it certainly is a power metal album of extraordinary quality made all the more interesting by the conditions of its making.
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