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Um...yeah. I'm not sure what the fuck Masterstroke are doing, but it definitely isn't barking up my musical tree. Their debut was a pretty decent Heavy/Power Metal album, and it had some songs I really liked; especially the last few of them. However, the material they released after that was a little less satisfactory, and, continuing the decline, their third effort in 2009's As Day Grow Darker is another rung down on the ladder for these Finnish metal dudes.
It seems like every time they release an album, they stray further away from everything I liked about the debut. That is to say, the crunchy, aggressive guitar work and the melodic solos. Those aren't completely gone on this album, just even further diluted, with most of the riffs on this album being shitty, chugging Nevermore/Machine Head-ish riffs that only occasionally even show the sort of "wall of sound" style of melodic riffs that they used on most of the songs off the last album Sleep, and never hint at all of the promise they showed on Apocalypse. There are still some cool solo parts, so the band gets points for that, but really, where is the charging, happy, Heavy Metal grandeur that came across so vibrantly in songs like "Metalstorm" or "Evil Forces"? Or how about the epic sensibility the band showed in "Seven Deadly Sins" and "Rusty Angel"?
Every song on this thing is about the same length, and they all sound too much alike, too, with the opening "Wait for the Fall" being pretty much a mold that everything on here follows - when it isn't unbearably boring crap like "Unstoppable" or "Inside Myself," that is. And what is up with the completely worthless "Another Step Back"? It's just this little atmospheric ballad with absolutely no features at all, except for what is Niko Rauhala's worst performance to date as he stumbles through the contrived ballad-y melodies on this song like he has two left feet. This album is mediocre all around, and I'm really being quite generous giving it a score this high.
Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com