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Is Underrated spelt with two R's or one?..... - 88%

Metal_Grail, July 10th, 2009

The late nineties weren’t very good years for HELLOWEEN. Despite Deris and Weikath turning out yet another minor miracle with every new song, you still had Grapow contributing bottom-of-the-barrel fillers, and Kusch playing catch-up. In short, the writing was on the wall that the band was really a band no more. ‘The Dark Ride’ is a half-masterpiece, half-trash release; but ultimately it’s a swansong to a band chemistry someone decided to pour down the sink.

Now the interesting thing is that Andi Deris released this (his 2nd) solo album at around the same time. And everything about it says fresh start. For one thing the actual band name appears to be ‘Deris’. So we have a “new” band”. Secondly, none of his HELLOWEEN band mates get so much as a mention. So out with the old. And third – the words and music seem uncommonly reflective. But then again maybe I’m reading too much into it. You decide.

But the good news is that HELLOWEEN went on to regain their rightful crown as the greatest heavy metal band on earth. But back to ‘Done By Mirrors’. Don’t let the clumsy mistranslated title fool you, this one needs no translation.

It’s not what I’d call an acoustic album by any means, but it does have that air of restraint. This isn’t smoking heavy metal. It’s more a string of intense moments. But not always.

For instance “Let Your Love Fly Free” and “Dangerous” have an almost playful abandon that does catchy and spontaneous in the same breath. “The Best You Don’t Need To Pay For” moves into laid back territory, but there’s something going on beneath the surface alright.

“Free” is when things get really serious. This one takes its time and looks set to skip the chorus when suddenly it hits you like a powerful scene you didn’t expect in a movie. Deris is a words and music man if ever there was one; he melds the two so not a crack shows.

“Did It All For You” and “A Little Bit More Each Day” both wear their hearts on their sleeve from start to finish. The arrangements are less about getting across hurt and tantrums, and more about a sad and quiet regret.

The closing tracks see Deris shift gear into troublemaking mode as he rips through song after song that lyrically place him in the eighteen year old bracket. Think rebel crossed with delinquent. It’s all an act, but it works just long enough to catch you off guard one last time with the closing track.

“Child Of My Fear” is a yearning and hauntingly poetic spirit set to song. It's also worth the price of admission alone. It’s not a short song, but doesn’t seem like a long song either. More like a wandering spirit looking for rest. Kind of appropriate I guess, given the band unrest I talked about earlier.

Pick this one up if you like your music melodic, your lyrics grown up, and your metal on a sabbatical. In other words it’s not heavy, but you’ll know a metal master’s behind it.