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I haven't really heard of Rampage / Rhino Records, which is probably why it took me forever to stumble upon this album. Looking around there doesn't even seem to be any information or anything out there for this band as well. This is again, just one of those totally obscure bands that I think could have been a lot more, but I've done that intro way too many times so lets just get straight to the content here.
Do you believe Queensryche is progressive, or not? You choice on that one will determine whether or not we can call this progressive metal. There's definitely not a constant spotlight hovering over the guitars and there isn't any incredibly technical buildups, complex rhythms, or anything of those sorts to be heard here so its probably safer to say this is just some very solid heavy metal. This does sound very similar to The Warning days of Queensryche and this album could go hand in hand with Lethal's Programmed release. The style and the Geoff Tate-esque vocals are all here and nicely polished.
Vocalist David Taylor gives off an incredibly awesome performance, though there's not much more I can say about the guy since there's just so many vocalists out there that sound quite a bit like him (again with the Geoff Tate comparison). Clear and melodic vocal fans will get along with the vocals here easily. A lot of the choruses he controls are extremely well done, though there are a few cheesy ones. The production is overall satisfying and there's nothing to really complain about with it, except the mixing does sound a bit inconsistent throughout the tracks at times. Both the drums and bass are above par but could probably be more. They wouldn't stand out on their own. Besides this the next driving force behind this release outside of the powerful vocals is definitely the guitar work. From catchy rockin' rhythms to rippingly fast riffs they've got just about everything here. Unfortunately its one of the biggest downfalls to this album as well.
The downfall here is the musical inconsistency with their style. To classify this entire album is extremely hard because some of the tracks sound like they could have come from a completely separate release or so on. The material just seems too spread out or something, like they didn't have a defined sound for themselves. You've got a handful of faster aggressive numbers: Kamikaze, Heroes Road, The Entity, the majority of Eternal Mercenary, and Sinister Minister, each even layered with a mildly epic atmosphere. These tougher tracks are great examples of usual 80's US power metal. If they filled up this album with material like these tracks it'd make perfect sense, though that's obviously not the case. This is not to say that the rest of the tracks are bad though, in fact the opener New Reign of the Phoenix may very well be the biggest killer here. It just seems a bit odd compared to the rest. Both Stormtrooper and Snake Eyes are wonderful tracks but they aren't without some random tidbits of hard rock influences layering the songs. The final track Forever and a Day just feels entirely out of place and is probably one track you'll find yourself skipping.
Overall the majority of this album is downright amazing. Fans of bands like Fates Warning, early Queensryche, Heir Apparent, Crimson Glory, Lethal, early Savatage, early Vicious Rumors, etc, should look into this right away. There's just a few random filler tracks that could have been replaced with far better songs because the band definitely had the talent to do better. Maybe a reworked track listing could have helped as well. Regardless, this is one that shouldn't be missed. Check it out!