Attacker is the type of band that Powerline in its first carnation (as a hard-copy fanzine) would have went nuts for (and if I check the archives possibly did go nuts for). This is the type of NWOBHM-influenced stuff that so many of us fell head-over-heels for in the mid-1980s. Nearly 30 years later I find myself enjoying this style — and more specifically this band — as much I did when I was a teenager. It’s a testimony to the bands that continue to play it with such aplomb more than a result of ears that haven’t changed in three decades.

Attacker formed in 1983 and original members Michael Sabatini (drums) and Pat Marinelli (guitar) still carry the power metal torch with honor.

Giants of Canaan is proudly melodic power metal and impressively a complete CD, the kind where the songs at the end are just as strong as those at the beginning. So, where to begin? The tunes are a logical place. Attacker writes the kind of intelligent music that borders on the intricate without ever getting too heady or progressive. The songs may have several elements or parts but you won’t find yourself getting lost in them. Titles like “The Hammer,” “Steel Vengeance” and “Born Into Battle” will probably alert listeners that Attacker is old-school but when the music is played with such care, precision and enthusiasm, it barely matters.

Singer Bobby Lucas is a true singer. Think Bruce Dickinson, Ripper Owens or John Arch more than any of the growlers or gurglers that pass for vocalists today. Quite impressively, he has a very solid command over his range, never over-stretching for the high notes. He’s particularly strong on “Washed in Blood,” which resembles early Fates Warning had that group gone in a more hard direction. “Born Into Battle” is a strong example of Attacker’s heavy-yet-melodic style, as is “Trapped in Black.”

Guitarists Mike Benetatos and Pat Marinelli are riff-machines without being over-the-top virtuosos. That’s an attribute given how out-of-whack the importance of solos became in this genre. “Sands of Time” is a loving tribute to heavy metal with a verse too great not to share:

“The sound was carved ’In Rock’/
and carried in an airship/
heavy with Led some said/
it would never take flight/
A storm of thunder and rain crashed/
through chiming church bells/
After the doom/
a great Rainbow rose into sight.”

Listen to Giants of Canaan  in its entirety because one of the greatest rewards comes in the closing “The Glen of the Ghost.” The song’s acoustic guitars remind listeners of the way the disc began before turning into an utterly memorable closer. Let’s not call it a sing-along but it’s close.

It is probably only possible for bands that were formed when this type of heavy metal was born in America to still play it so strongly. Then again, some of those bands have reformed only to tarnish their legacy. The majority still do it justice. Let’s put New Jersey’s Attacker toward the top of that list. “Giants of Canaan” is one you can listen to over and over.