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Although many seem to think this sophomore release sacrificed complexity for the sake of melody, I’m of the opposite mind. It’s slower and maybe not as technical, but definitely more complex and actually less melodic this time around. The songs are far more built around the lyrics, as if the band really wanted to get this story told in a linear fashion without getting abrupted by refrains. I see that simply as a different approach. It is more complex in that it demands more out of the listener. All the qualities are there, you just have to listen for them more carefully. That’s the reason I first dismissed Winner / Loser, however after giving it some time, it grew on me until it became almost as good as their excellent debut.
Overall, Winner / Loser is similar to the debut in sound and the impression it leaves on you. We have the same guitar style, drumming, production, and the same eclectic bass player, but with perhaps one exception: Harry Conklin. He sings much the same way, just not as consistently high and with a little more restraint. Maybe the band wanted to take some focus off of him? I don’t know, but in any case his performance is still damn good here, even if it doesn’t reach up to standard he previously set. Something else that hasn’t changed is that true highlights are kind of missing (with one exception). There are no low points, but no more than one song I would describe as all-the-way awesome; the rest of the songs range between being good to very good, only occasionally verging on brilliance.
The absolute highlight would be ‘Small Price to Pay’ – a real trend-breaker of a song with its original melodies and refrain. The guitar patterns - basically some swift power chord progressions crescending into some longer, lighter ones - create a truly awesome effect and pave the way for Conklin’s inspiring vocal melodies. Other songs that deserve mention are ‘Face to Face’ for its intriguing rhythms, ‘Shadow of a Promise’ for its unusual upbeat and the title song for being a very solid – if unremarkable – head banger.
Titan Force (and consequently this album) get a lot of bonus points for being one of the most unique-sounding bands of the 80s. Basically, if you’re looking for talented music that strikes the middle-ground between power and progressive metal, Titan Force is the band for you.