It sounds like a platitude to say that a band comes out of nowhere. But in the case of the Portuguese On the Loose, this is indeed true. In September of last year, a song called “Midnight“ suddenly appeared, which probably made every epic doom fan sit up and take notice. Or even put them in a state of excitement: It heralded something huge!
If you take a look at the band’s line-up, you realise that the musicians certainly didn’t come out of nowhere, even if drummer João Pedro Ventura is probably unknown to most of our readers. Marco Marouco, the leader of On the Loose, has been active in various formations during his career, including the thrash metal band Perpetratör. Singer Flávio Lino has also been the frontman of Airforce since 2019, a group in which a certain Doug Sampson plays the drums – I probably don’t have to tell anyone on this blog that this guy was a member of Iron Maiden from 1977 to 1979 and can also be heard in this role on the legendary The Soundhouse Tapes.
Iron Maiden is generally a band whose name will come up in many reviews of On the Loose’s self-titled debut album. It’s almost inevitable, even if it doesn’t necessarily do justice to the great music that awaits you. The aforementioned Flávio Lino sounds almost 1:1 like Bruce Dickinson! When I heard “Midnight“ for the first time, I thought for a moment that our beloved Air Raid Siren had recorded an epic doom record for a side project I had not been familiar with until then.
If we now examine On the Loose in more detail, we must first point out one of the major strengths of the South Europeans: They manage to create exceptionally sublime, stirring melodies that don’t have to hide from the greats of the genre. Not only because of Flávio Lino’s vocal colour, one often thinks of the reunion records of Iron Maiden, which enchant me to a similar degree. This record, however, is even more epic (which is not least due to well-dosed choirs and some of the genre-typical “radio play elements“ à la Bathory), so that fans of bands like Scald or Atlantean Kodex also will be fully satisfied.
These references already hint at it: We are dealing here with majestic, combative and powerful epic doom that gives the listener gallons of energy. It’s the kind of music you want to consume in before a massive battle – or, to take a less martial example: My colleague Aidan, with songs like “Desire“ in his ears, might be tearing up his regular gym with a big grin on his face.
It is completely impossible to pick out a highlight here, as all seven songs are convincing from front to back. On the Loose is an album that you want to listen to over and over again. In the hope that we will soon be presented with an equally grandiose successor…
Conclusion: On the Loose set a first big exclamation mark in the still young metal year. Whoever presents such intense music, full of passion and class, recommends themselves for top spots on future best of the year lists. I can hardly imagine that another record will be released in the epic doom genre in 2022 that can surpass the level of On the Loose. Therefore: Buy this record, tell all your friends to do the same – and call every festival organiser you know and urge them to book the band for an upcoming event!