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Masterly played, crap vocals and pointless songs - 48%

Lane, March 22nd, 2014

Japanese Double Dealer consists of Concerto Moon and Saber Tiger members. 'Deride at the Top' is filled, and I mean way too packed, with neo-classical hard rock/heavy metal. Obvious influences for Double Dealer guitarist Norifumi Shima (Concerto Moon), who wrote all the music here, are the likes of Rainbow and Yngwie Malmsteen.

'My Straight Shout Squeezed My Soul' begins nicely, really rocking and making my head bang. But then, enter the vocalist... Saber Tiger's Takenori Shimoyama utilized huge vibration in his voice. He sounds like a mixture of drunk Tobias Sammet (Edguy) and Loudness's Minoru Niihara, and when singing a bit calmer, Jag Panzer's Harry "Tyrant" Conklin! There's some rasp, but when Mr. Shimoyama stretches his voice here and there, it gets a bit comical. It's like he's seeking for a right note to hit. He does it sometimes without the vibration and stretching, and manage to sound tolerable.

The guitars are great, powerful and fucking METAL (wicked solos, squeals, etc.), but that doesn't help a lot when the songs are usually way too long. Sometimes it's simply easier to press that forward button, sadly. The rhythm section is powerful, too, simple but effective. Of course there's loads of Hammond sound to give that 1970s feel. But that's it, it's all been heard so many times before that I can't even count that far. At times songs do shine, like opening duo for example. But... Of course there must be a ballad. 'If Fate Includes all the Love' is one of the most syrupy songs I've heard, and that's not a good thing, mind you!

Sound-wise this is raw-ish, definitely organic and quite heavy. All the elements are well audible. The cover art belongs to "the worst stuff, ever!" category. Another ultra-crap 3D computer "artwork".

This style of music isn't very close to my heart, but when I hear good stuff I recognise it. Double Dealer have some fundamental problems, including a bad vocalist and sometimes mediocre songwriting. I can recommend this only for those who are in deep need of some neo-classical hard rock/heavy metal.

(Originally written for ArchaicMetallurgy.com in 2008)