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We don't need a hero - 27%

kluseba, May 25th, 2014

Ah, the Philippines – charming women, dream islands, ethnic diversity, exotic foods and drinks, sunshine and… Power Metal? Yes, you’ve read right. A Hero For The World is a young independent power metal band founded in 2012 that just released its first self-entitled debut record. It features ten tracks including a closing epic trilogy and thirteen bonus tracks in form of acoustic and alternative version of the first ten songs. Once you listen to the songs, you might rather think of a European power metal band and in fact you are right. Here comes the solution: the three band members have emigrated to the Philippines from Sweden and the United States of America.

I think it’s a quite clever and honorable project to release a power metal record in such a remote place and spread the world wide metal infusion. These three guys owe all my respect. But I’m sorry to tell the world that this record itself is really disappointing.

Let me explain. Imagine a mix of the sweetest and cheesiest releases of Freedom Call and Stratovarius, a few failed attempts at an epic atmosphere in the key of contemporary Manowar, an exchangeable and technically not all too skilled singer somewhere between a fake version of Eedguy's Tobias Sammet and Jorn, highly annoying multiple vocal lines and effects in all songs, choruses or overlong sound patterns that are repeated to death, childish melodies by guitars and keyboards that could come straight from a Disney soundtrack and an unimpressive rhythm section. This sounds bad? Well, that’s exactly what you get here. The repetition of song passages and the sweet instrumental diabetes even harm the songs that have a few interesting passages such as “Heaven’s Eyes” or “One Hope Of Light”. If these songs had a length of four and six minutes instead of seven and ten they would be quite decent but I guess the band simply wanted to create something too epic against its own good. The song writing is really filled with the worst stereotypes of the genre. This kind of music makes me realize why I’ve shifted away from the European power metal genre over the years because it has become too childish, dull and repetitive.

The only song I’m able to like a little bit is the ballad “Free Forever”. Okay, it sounds like a Celtic Christmas song stolen from the “Lord of the Rings” soundtrack but it has its charm. The best thing about the song are the more grounded vocals that the singer manages not to mess up and the amazing female guest vocals by Louiebeth Aratan who is the only actual link to the Philippines on this record. This song stands out because of its dreamy and soft emotions. This track has not much to do with metal music and is really cheesy but that’s maybe why it stands out among the ordinary rest.

In the end, I really wanted to like this ambitious project from such a beautiful and remote place. But the music doesn’t lie and I might only suggest this record to faithful fans of very melodic traditional European power metal. Anybody else will get his ears bleeding quite soon. This is the kind of record I would classify as a completely missed experiment even though I’m sorry to say that.

Originally written for The Metal Observer

A supernova before the stoic hero. - 90%

hells_unicorn, May 17th, 2013

Sometimes an album cover tries to be cryptic about its contents, and at others it literally pummels the would be audience with a subtlety of an iron boot to the skull. Perhaps the most well-known band to turn the latter approach into a fine art is Manowar, and much of the present power metal scene seems all to happy to follow their example, and why not? Although long ago rendered a predictable storyline to the point of cliche, the image of a lone hero standing against seemingly insurmountable odds will always work in the heavy metal medium, because it is that very spirit that the genre represents. While a band name like A Hero For The World might suggest any one of an endless onslaught of 4th rate metalcore flunkies, the reality is something far more grandiose and worthy of its signified meaning.

Picture the utter pomp and orchestral bluster of Manowar's recent offering "Gods Of War", but with a vocalist that sounds a bit closer to vintage Tobias Sammet and a more European tinge to the overall feel of things (think Gamma Ray/Freedom Call emulators Galderia but with a heavier edge) and a pretty good representation of this band's self-titled debut emerges. At the same time, while this album definitely borrows a lot of heavily symphonic keyboard aesthetics from said Manowar album, it takes completely opposite approach and presents a series of easy to follow songs with little instrumental meandering to speak of, perhaps drawing some comparison to Majesty's brief stint under the name Metalforce. The opening song "We Are Forever" is a textbook example of this, attacking right from the start with a loud foray of vocals and instruments, almost as if beginning opening song off of "Fighting The World" known affectionately as "Carry On" without the acoustic prelude or the brief A Capella chant that follows it.

To be fair, this band does not solely stick to the Manowar sound and regularly finds itself in a smoother, mainline Helloween/Edguy neck of the woods with a number of fast yet not quite over speed metal cookers that follow conventional formulas. "End Of Time" and "Let It Go" have all the trappings of a classic late 80s approach to power metal of the likes that Stratovarius might dream up, but with a far more abrasive vocal assault and a less contemplative character. Things get even more interesting when the ballads and epics roll in, revealing a band that is quite capable of giving the masses an excuse to raise their lighters to the sky. "Free Forever" has a sort of Celtic anthem character to it, not all that different from the music that introduces the Shire in the recent "Lord Of The Rings" films, but also presenting a massive sounding presentation that would put even 90s Savatage to shame. "One Hope Of Light" takes a somewhat similar approach, but drags things out a bit longer and features some of the beautiful vocal work of Louiebeth Aratan, the band's lone link to the Philippines, who also manages to sound like a charming Irish lass with her gentle, angelic croon.

For a completely independent project with no label support to speak of, this stands as one of the most impressive projects to come up of late, and is definitely one to watch. It builds an impressive set of songs from a number of commonplace sources, yet manages to come off as completely fresh and inviting. At times it almost feels like this album has picked up where Manowar left off in 2002, as well as channeling most of the melodic and consonant character of the lighter side of the German power metal scene from about the same time. For anyone who likes their power metal with a fair amount of aggression and attitude, yet still within the European post-Helloween paradigm stylistically, this is definitely a band to support. It's one of those albums that has few tricks or mysteries to speak of musically, but is so utterly up beat and powerful that it's impossible to care.

So are they Swedish or??? - 80%

Immortally_Insane, May 16th, 2013

The album begins rather abruptly with layered vocals, expressing “We will fight fire with fire” on the track “We Are Forever” and although it’s off-putting at first, the song grows into a surprisingly melodic track with wonderful vocal melodies and guitar licks. It’s a fittingly strong start to an album that never seems to die out.

“Free Forever” slows the album down a bit in tempo and brings out a calmer side to the musicians all around. Kassgaard’s ballad vocals are low but strong, and the keyboard work is phenomenal. The song also features female singer, Louiebeth Aratan who is also from the Philippines. It is definitely an unexpected sound but her vocal style is proper for the song and works really well with Kassgaard’s. Immediately following the ballad, the album picks back up with a lovely falsetto and haunting vocal layering on “Let it Go”. The drumming style of Gentile brings in a nice anthem-like beat to the track and really helps it move along, while the lead guitar parts from Sivelind feature neo-classical inspired movements matching the vocal melodies perfectly, creating one hell of a power metal composition.

“Heaven’s Eyes” is a gritty, driving tune, and features a rather amazing vocal feature towards the end, which I would put money on being one of the highest falsetto’s I have heard ever recorded so well. My jaw was on the ground upon first listen, so kudos to you Kaasgaard. The album keeps your interest so well that before you know it, the finale is upon you.

The record ends with three intertwined tracks all telling one story about the hero of the world. Most albums (especially in power metal) have some creative and solid way to end, but the track “One Hope of Light” is the epitome of a perfect finale. It combines bits and pieces from the album as a whole, composed into one beautiful epic, lasting over ten minutes, but seems to fly by. The acoustic guitar work, the keyboard flourishes, the quiet but moving bass lines, and the at times tribal-like drums, just make for one truly astonishing track.

A concrete power metal album, with perfect drums, rhythm and lead string work, and strong embellished power metal vocals, A Hero for the World has definitely created something to be proud of. Their debut album has set the bar quite high for any work the band writes in the future.

[Originally written for Metalholic.com]