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This demo demonstrates what horrible decisions this band makes. Following Andre Matos's departure, it's hard to say that this band has done anything worth listening to. Maybe a song here and there that's decent, but a far cry from the first two albums.....an extremely far cry. Enter 2005 and a new vocalist who is a dead ringer for Andre Matos....but a much more powerful singer. Whereas Matos now has an extremely wimpy and powerless voice, this guy...whatever his name is, is excellent. So adroitly does he mimic Andre Matos that even the vocal lines sound like something Andre would have done before he began to suck. The re-recording of Knights of Destruction is superior to the original. Even the modern production doesn't detract from the song. The guitars are now completely audible and pack a decent punch for a demo. The singer produces a performance that usurps Andre Matos's on the debut. Excellent way to start of the demo, perhaps signalling a return to their roots which could perhaps see the band play top notch melodic metal with energy.
The next song "I'm Gonna Cross the Line" shows that maybe they've gotten a little too modern. The verse riff is chugga chugga nonsense that belongs on a Five Finger Death Punch album, thankfully, that's the only part of this song that is bad. The vocals are good and the song structure, apart from the previously mentioned suck-riff, is also quite good. The vocals really save this song.Since it's the worst on the demo, I'll move on.
"Never Come Back" is the gem of the demo. This is probably one of the best songs the band has ever written. When I first heard it I thought Matos was singing and that it was a left over from the Theater of Fate recordings. My research has revealed no evidence to support this conclusion so I have to assume that it's newly written. In any event, this song embodies everything that was special about Viper. The main lead in the song is absolutely amazing. The main riff that precedes the verse riff is also pure metallic glory. Not only does it rock with energy, but it is intelligently written and provides just enough complexity to compliment that rhythm. The vocals again are a highlight. Almost every line sung is an omage to what Matos used to be able to do. Frankly, I don't understand why this demo didn't get more attention. If I were Matos, and I heard this song, I would be ashamed of myself and what I'd become. The song structure is also superb. The solo proceeds adeptly with well placed shredding and excellent harmonized leads. Following the solo, the songwriting and vocal performance really shines. Words cannot describe how expertly written the last half of this song is so I invite the reader to listen to it and hear for him/herself. Simply put, this is the best song they've written in 15+ years and I am at a loss for words as to why they chose to leave it off of the full length. It is perhaps one of the worst decisions they have ever made.
"Time", this song hearkens back to the days where Helloween weren't a bunch of tired old Germans rehashing the same ideas. It has a freshness to it that made the early power/speed metal movement so special. This song is not revolutionary, nor is it as awesome as the previous song. It is, however, well played, and well written. The chorus maybe sounds a little too much like Helloween's "Rise and Fall," but since that song is soo good, I'll let it slide.
"Do It All Again" is the second higlight of the album, perhaps another leftover from the Theater of Fate days?? Who knows, but it certainly sounds like it was written by Viper when they were at the top of their game. Again, this one sounds like a young Matos singing and the guitars are excellent and full of energy. It's sad that, though this was included on the full length, they decided to tweak the main lead to include a different note at the end of the phrase that frankly destroys the lead. This song reminds me of classics such as "At Least a Chance," and "To Live Again". Sadlly, the version on the full length was altered and destroyed.
This demo is a rarity where a band totally gets it right on a demo version and then proceeds to destroy whatever magic they had crafted on the subsequent full length. The full length, far from continuing in this vein, is a collection of crappy songs mixed in with reworked and ruined versions of good songs from the demo. I'm not going to review the full length because it sucks so bad. Suffice to say that this demo is superb and is truly unfortunate for the aobve mentioned reasons. Just listen to it if you can find it and enjoy the hell out of it.