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Promising, But Rough with Shoddy Vocals - 63%

DeathRiderDoom, January 10th, 2010

Abraxas

Firstly, I was surprised there are multiple bands with this name. it seems with 80,000 metal bands on this site, even abstract names like Abraxas are having to double up. But 7 bands sharing this title? Surprising. Anyways, Abraxas are a German power metal band that released some pretty strong stuff in the early 90’s. Kinda Queensryche/King Diamondy power metal that kicked quite a lot of ass. On this debut release, it’s unsurprising that the bands sound is a little rawer and underdeveloped, but we must keep in mind that the band had been fleshing things out for 4 or so years by this point. This is quite rough power metal which seemingly takes a lot of influence from Helloween and King Diamond, yet is fairly weak and unpolished feeling for the most part; especially given the relative complexity and polished nature of both of said bands.

In tracks like ‘The Chosen One’ we are treated to some pretty thrilling Iron Maidenesque guitar lead sections, with an overall Helloweenish, speedy kinda vibe, and some spacey effects to jazz things up, but overall the quality of vocals is pretty terrible and holds things back – almost relegating them to amateur status. We all know that power metal always features strong, soaring vocalists, or at least power, growling screachers like Kimball. Here notes are imperfect and the rough Germanism of Joachim Hittinger really hold the thing back. ‘Taken by the Past’ features his best performance, but even here it is enhanced by the backup chorus. Abraxas went through a host of vocalists, and with their breakthrough 1993 album, they were not only much more developed as a band, but found a much stronger vocalist in Chris Klauke. A strong vocalist is essential for this brand of emotional, beautiful metal, and here it is pretty much absent, holding back the album, and making for some commentators to write off the band as amatueresque and not-worth following up on. Of course this would be a grave mistake, given the relative quality of their later works.

All in all, this is an EP with promise, with a triumphant epic tone that comes through on high paced tracks like ‘When Time Has Come’, but it still feels rough, and unpolished, though it is complex and pretty well-written. Some very nice guitar melodies are present, with showy bits rife throughout the offering. Largely, the problem rests with weak vocals and frankly, quite shoddy production. The band would mature and offer much better stuff with the following full-length, coming into their element equipped with a strong vocalist and better production. I would advise picking up said full-length and avoiding this one, unless you’re a big fan and want the entire catalogue. Promising, but fairly rough and un-enjoyable.

-DeathRiderDoom