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To my knowledge, Sweden and Australia have never been at war, which is probably why the Wikipedia article on Swedish-Australian relations is extremely dry reading. If anyone's feeling up to editing the page, though, here's something that deserves mention: Australia's Road Warrior has teamed up with Sweden's Gravebreaker to give us a short split of killer heavy metal. Owing to the globe-crossing reach of Gates of Hell Records, it brings together two wildly distant bands that couldn't be a better pairing of vision and sound. Bear witness to two gleaming steel offerings that will kick you right into the seedy streets of the city -- which city, exactly, is a bit of a tossup, but you can be sure it stinks of burning rubber and soon-to-be-corrected injustice. We're streaming both sides of the Road Warrior/Gravebreaker Split 7" now:

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On "Death In Heels on Wheels," Road Warrior immediately banishes any fleeting Dr. Seuss comparisons the rhyming title might instigate with a particularly sinister riff that absolutely oozes sleaze. If evil and sleazy can be epic, this is where it happens: the buoyant, full-throated vocals and exuberant drumming don't contradict the malicious guitarwork, they magnify it. Picture black-chromed motorcycles roaring to life with hooded cultists atop them: the surprising depth of the songwriting gives a supernatural appeal to Road Warrior's gritty bite.

I have to admit that Gravebreaker is what initially drew me to this release: I chanced upon their 2016 debut Sacrifice shortly after its release through the "NWOTHM Full Albums" YouTube channel (which has continued to yield great finds) and was immediately hooked. Gravebreaker was my first conscious foray into the modern field of traditional metal, and their non-contemporary, highly melodic approach hasn't seen many equals yet.

Their contribution to the split "Death Promise" was written for Sacrifice, but didn't make it onto the album -- clearly due to time constraints, not quality issues. As with the album's material, the guitars and melodies are classic and inspiring, but the slightly-raspy vocals and subject matter cast them in a glittering, malicious light. When the song's protagonist, speaking to a foe, threatens to "blow your mind," you can be sure it's not in the psychedelic sense. That's the enchanting duality of Gravebreaker: cool, powerful riffs, ominous everything else. It's nice to hear a little new stuff, but damn if it doesn't make me want more.

Two great purveyors of speed-thirsty heavy metal have joined forces here to give us an exquisite split release, even if it redoubles my thirst for a new Gravebreaker full-length. Quite frankly, this is a must-listen for anyone with a leather battle jacket.

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Road Warrior/Gravebreaker Split 7" releases February 21st via Gates of Hell Records.

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