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I find it strange that I am reviewing yet another Impellitteri album, because anybody who knows me and my other reviews is aware that I don't necessarily consider them to be that good of a band. I guess the reason I keep reviewing them is because they have so much potential. Chris is a great shredder, magnificent at times in fact and I always wished that there would be an album that showcased his brilliance in songs that were actually good. Sure "Stand in Line" came close, but that was only half the album that succeeded in that way while the rest of it continued to hammer you in the face with boredom. However, it was when I found this particular album "Eye of the Hurricane" that I found what I was looking for.
Despite featuring the same lineup of "Screaming Symphony", this album is much better then that one. This album contains the most varied songwriting, the most powerful vocal performance from Rob Rock, and the most spectacular guitar work of all the Impellitteri albums. Sure, it's no masterpiece or hallmark of the genre, but it's still pretty darn good. It's also the longest album they did (despite only being about 45 minutes long) with their longest song ("Paradise" at 6 minutes).
The best songs here are probably "Kingdom Fighters", "Bleed in Silence", "Shed Your Blood", and the title track. All are variations on your basic Impellitteri formula. You've got your mid paced chugging riffs, ripping solos, infectious choruses, and pretty straight laced rhythms. What makes these songs stand out is the use of tempo changes, more chordal playing, and much better vocal melodies than usual. Much less dabbling in the hard rock world here as well, instead the band just goes straight for the throat traditional metal style on these tracks. I should also mention that the solos on the last 3 of those I mentioned are some of the best, most absurdly epic shred solos to be found in traditional heavy metal.
In contrast, this album also is one of the only Impellitteri albums to contain not one but two ballads. The track "On and On" is the most laid back this band ever gets, with a nice pretty vocal melody and acoustic guitars. What I like about this song is that it varies up the atmosphere of the album and doesn't sound too terribly cheesy despite the unoriginal lyrics. The other ballad is the 6 minute "Paradise" which in all honesty is just okay. Admittedly it's one of the few flaws on this album that it ends with this song because it's just not as climactic as it should be.
There are also two instrumentals here in the form of "Race into the Light" and "Halloween". Both feature very technical, structured playing from Chris that still has some strong melodic content which more then I can say for a lot of his instrumentals. The latter song in particular is quite good, and the mood of it really fits the title.
To be fair, the album isn't a complete success. Besides what I mentioned before, you also have a few pretty forgettable songs on here. Namely "Everything is You" and the aforementioned "Paradise". Even though "Everything is You" continues the trend of varying up the typical verse-chorus structure like the highlights of the album, it does so in a more sleaze rock fashion that is very repelling to me. But aside from that the album is pretty dynamite when it comes to fun, shred-tacular heavy metal. It keeps your brain thinking more than the rest of their albums, it's got a little bit more depth, and it delivers all the usual goods in better form then ever.
So yeah, if you've ever got the urge for some old school heavy metal glory that doesn't get too convoluted yet also doesn't get too repetitive, check this one out.