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Convention metal from an unlikely source. - 84%

hells_unicorn, January 28th, 2012

My opinion on super-bands has changed a bit over the years, from being ambivalent to being mostly positive on the matter. A lot of this switch in mindset can be credited to bands like Absolute Power, an outfit just recently unleashed from the isle of Britain with about as much metallic glory as can be expected for a freshman effort. However, the members in congress are anything but freshmen, save for the fact that this is the first project I’ve heard out of each respectively that doesn’t fall into an extreme metal sub-genre. It’s a curious thing, seeing an orthodox take on heavy metal from artists like Shane Embury and Mitch Harris who made their careers ushering the most vile hybrid of punk and extreme metal influences in the late 80s with Napalm Death, as while this style may have coincided with their era of early composition, it’s about as far from what they were doing as can be.

The influences on display in this powerful debut are pretty wide in terms of bands, many from the 80s, and almost as many from the recent power metal revival, but the presentation is 100% melodic and based in the non-extreme, pre-thrash paradigm of the NWOBHM and various contemporaries. Comparisons to Diamond Head, Iron Maiden, Manowar, Metal Church (particularly the non-thrash influences) and Blitzkrieg would all fit, as would more recent offerings out of Hammerfall and Dream Evil, yet this largely avoids becoming gratuitous in the metal worship area of the latter generation in favor of a balanced mixture of fanfare and storytelling. Everything is presented in a catchy, easy to follow format, merging together the grit of a Grave Digger with the polish of a Dokken, and presenting a retro 80s sound in a present day production context.

It’s tough to really go wrong with the various songs found on here, which cover a good variety of bases within a somewhat constrained style and avoids being a mere one-trick pony. Those who like their speed metal with both gusto and a slight “Painkiller” edge will definitely go for the title song, “Raging Pursuer” and “Faster Than The Speed Of Evil”. Meanwhile those who hunger for a slightly tamer and slower variety more in line with Leatherwolf or mid-80s Accept will see “Secrets” and “Forbidden Fruit” as the clear winners. But the rabid Iron Maiden fanatics who ate up the earlier offerings of Cryonic Temple about 7 years ago will definitely want to skip to “Sea Of Horns”, a song that is about as lyrically predictable as they come, but has a nice driving gallop to it and plenty of early metal clichés to literally transport the listener back to 1983.

This is one of those albums where everything falls into place nicely and, even though it never really offers any surprises to speak of, definitely scores big in the quality department. It’s clearly possessed of a rougher, German (as in non-Helloween) character when it gets aggressive, while the lighter material nestles itself somewhere nicely between the commercial rock influences of Persian Risk and the harder edged early Saxon material. It’s definitely put together with an eye for people roughly the same age as Embury and Harris (ergo people who heard this style back when it was first pioneered), but it has a freshness to it that should carry over to plenty in the younger crowd who are more drawn to the present power metal scene.