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Quite disappointing. - 74%

Nightcrawler, June 29th, 2003

This is by no means a bad album, but after being overwhelmed by the greatness of Heart of Steel, I was definitely disappointed. Their sound hasn't changed much at all, it's pretty much all the same- and while they are a very good band, at times it does get old. Though there is one notable change, in that they keyboards have a bigger part, which is seen right from the first song featuring really cool alternating guitar and keyboard solos.
The production has improved also, with a much thicker and stronger sound, but this doesn't cover the fact that the album is also much less consistent than Heart of Steel. There are several weak points scattered across the album that take make it much worse than it could've been, and also makes the great songs seem less great. And the fact that remains that the high points generally aren't quite as excellent as Soldier of Time, for example.
Also, some of the melodic ideas found on Heart of Steel have been copied and placed on various places around on this album. One example is the verses of Take Me Away, which sound pretty much exactly the same as Soldier of Time. Stuff like that only occurs about three times on the album, and while it doesn't really matter much, it does give the feeling that they're running out of ideas. Perhaps it was merely mistakes, but it still gets annoying at times.
But like I said before, this is not at all a bad album on it's own, not at all. It just feels rather pale compared to Heart of Steel.
They still don't really sound like any other band I've heard, and they've got their own thing going, and the songwriting is for the most part very strong, despite some filler material that abound.
The Time Has Come is a fast-paced, very melodic and very memorable opener much in the vein of Soldier of Time. The title track follows it, and is incredibly catchy yet still pretty emotional, and has an awesome melodic chorus. Fly To The Rainbow is pretty long for this band, reaching just over, and is easily the highlight of the album. Only the intro is amazing, alternating between wicked heavy riffwork and the melodic main-lead in a great fashion, and the vocal lines are very memorable. And check out that monster speed metal riff kicking in at about 4 minutes. Take Me Away is killer speed metal featuring a completely awesome, huge melodic chorus, and is incredibly solid tune despite the recycled verses. But aside from Fly To The Rainbow, the two greatest songs are the ones closing the album: Witches Dance and Wings to Fly. The former being a wicked uplifting speed metal tune with a menacing melodic main riff and a very memorable chorus, the second continuing the band's tradition of writing splendid emotional ballads. And on the limited version, there is also the bonus track I Surrender, a magnificent cover of the Rainbow classic. There are also two instrumental tracks, being two more well executed renditions of classical pieces.
So the band still have some excellent songwriting in store. Their music as usual has a rather emotional touch and is played with great passion and inspiration, which is another reason why this band still stands out among many other bands.

But the fact remains that the album is pretty inconsistent. Hold Your Fire has a decent melodic chorus but the ballad-ish verses seem very extended and don't really make sense. Time is just utterly boring, and then Sing This Song is very average, with a rather silly chorus.

So while Only Human is another solid power metal album by these guys, it could be much more. They need to take it a few steps further and move into unknown territory, because bands that stay the same all the time really have no future. Maybe that is just what they did on their new album The Evil In You, I will have to check it out. The band has talent, it would be a shame to see it go to waste.