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Here we have a young promising Kansas City metal band that shows their chops. Vanlade mixes power and speed for a winning combination on their debut. Although the band has many things going for them here, there is still room for improvement. My main gripe with the album is the production. The guitars sound thin at times. The vocals are just slightly too high in the mix. The bass is nowhere near high enough in the mix. The drums are where most of the gripe comes from. CC is a great drummer. He is precise and plays with a lot of power live. On this album though the drums are triggered all the way to hell. There are many points on the album where it doesn't even sound like a human being is playing. For the next album I really hope they go for a more natural drum sound.
Now the album has eight tracks, seven of them beings songs. The last track has a little surprise at the end that is good for a laugh or two. The album starts off very strong with a mandatory cheesy intro and the title track is good enough to hold a candle to something off Blind Guardian's Follow The Blind. It's definitely an anthem and a good one. Full of manly sword and sorcery lyrics that show the bands intentions well. The sound the band has is a USPM influenced early Helloween style. Music that is rough around the edges and trots a fine middle ground between American and European power metal. The album ventures outside its standard metal topics with Hypernova and Bound by Fate. Hypernova I feel is the worst song on the album. It just feels like a not as great Evil's Bane. The sci-fi lyrics just stumble along without anything interesting happening. The spoken word break is also a pain to listen to. The band also utilizes three "Woah-oh" sing-a-long parts. First in the title track. Then again in Hypernova and the track right after it, Wings of Fire. This makes the album get a little repetitive in the middle. There are also some semi harsh vocals present in Wings of Fire and Life by the Blade. I feel they really take away from the flow in Wings of Fire, making it the second worst tune next to Hypernova. The harsh vocals do however work well in Life by the Blade.
Bound by Fate is another highlight of the album. The lyrical content is again pulled away from sword and sorcery fantasy and is better for it this time. The music on this song is the catchiest and most arena friendly the band gets. They is even a nice section that sounds very Priest-like. We also get the strongest vocal performance. The hidden bonus track "Screaming Metal Death Trap" is pretty much a joke tune. The band is just having fun playing some "butt rock" in the studio. The song is speedy enough but it's such a ridiculous song compared to the rest of the album.
So here lies a promising debut from Vanlade. Don't let the goofy cover art fool you, it's a solid album. Two great songs and three good ones warrants a purchase from any true metal listener. I look forward to hearing more from the band.