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Play That Heavy Metal Sound! - 77%

CHAIRTHROWER, September 9th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2019, Digital, Roadie Metal

Its cryptic-as-shit title and cover art's wantonly abrogated allusion to King Diamond not withstanding, Rio De Janeiro's (gerund-happy) Facing Fear's debut full-length, Ana Jensen, assuages in slickly riveting fashion while rendering justice to said dynasty's affinity for winsome fem-me sobriquets (ah, Melissa!).

Playing A-grade South American traditional heavy metal, that is, with passion and every-day melody - in a comparatively idiosyncratic manner as fellow enthused country men Wild Witch or that nefariously clerical power supply from Portugal, Midnight Priest - while waxing baleful, malefic and wise on ever-human topics juggling war(s), politics, legends and good ole heavy metal (lore), the lone guitar quartet from the Southern twenty-third (parallel) still needs to reign in its jubilantly gregarious front man's exultant overtures, if only mildly. In fairness, they simply sound awkward and ill-toned on a smidgen of tracks (out of ten, ending with a titular closer); namely, their chromatically frenzied and deranged battle-cry topped, "Two Minutes To Midnight" live-ringer of an opener, "Hell's Kitchen" (which, incidentally, sounds like a raw and riveting accompaniment piece to Ollie Masters' The Kitchen, a kick-ass ode to feminine mobster-ism and sisterhood taking place in the New York borough of the same name), as well as highly Iron Maiden/White Wizzard-esque "Until The End", with its palm-muted touch and go theatrics, heartily mellifluous guitar harmony and extensively jagged neo-classisist guitar solo. (If I may, you'll initially feel an odd mixture of glee and yearning - a paradox of the first order which soon levels off as "AJ" takes to the races!)

A further NWOBHM-ish obscurity is gleaned with the "Alexander The Great" evoking "Tragedy/The Lonely Soldier" early epic, where top dog Terry Painkiller (also a Steel Wölver, mind) duly comes into his own thanks to a memorably captivating sing-along performance at the behest of Raphael Dantas' exemplary metallic chops, backed as they are by Nathalia Souza's galloping bass and Vall Maranhão's cataleptic, multifarious drum fills. (As token intrigue, the band's feminine agent also tests her mettle with Jacarépagua grindcore act Oxiürus.) Landmark anthem-ic highlight "I Want To Play The Sound" - reprise'd from the largely Portuguese-extirpated EP from '17, Lutaremos pelo Metal - would make East London luminaries Maiden and UFO mightily proud, as it begins with a canorous/dexterous introductory guitar progression overlapping a guileless albeit wholesome lead prior to skipping beats and hearts both with catchily stimulating verses-and-chori (think plural of "cactus"), splayed like so much spray paint over radical, hooking riff-age, the lot of it wound down by a surprising tempo acceleration/drum intensification.

Although in excess of fifty minutes, this relatively feral and tight effort upholds the listener's attention throughout. Betwixt sharper or more linear, un-fancified sanctity in the prosaic, albeit vociferously shredding, "Run For Your Life" (a long-distance sixth cousin, thrice removed of, shall we say, Groovy Aardvark's FYI - For Your Life?), a further sinuous and sylphlike "nwothm" modern-day fill-in for UFO's "Doctor, Doctor" with "Calling Me", and, as swansong, the matrilingual (i.e. back to Portuguese roots) enigma, "Ana Jensen" proper, Facing Fear has firmly established itself as a rising force in and among the local, perhaps even International, metal scenes. Fleshing things out, the fantastical mini-epic "Snow Witch (Yuki-Onna)" thematically tops itself, whilst practical namesake "We Are Facing Fear" explicitly riptides - first, by guitar, before coming together for a somewhat thrash-y, as well as gang yammered and highly intensified, (next-to-last) outpouring. Even T.'s lunging escapades exude more aggression than usual alongside Raph's brilliantly rock-ish lead blast.

It'll be interesting to hear how Facing Fear fares the next go-around, which, if my twitching feelers are correct, won't take too long to materialize. Headless, soi-disant metal maniacs far and wide owe Ana Jensen - available since April, digitally, under Roadie Metal; on CD with Classic Metal (Biter, Fast Evil) - her imperial due. On my Northern end, I'll dang near try to catch the gist of it all!

"Do not let it enter your mind
Will get hold of your dreams
We can destroy it together
There is a fear inside it
I control the unknown
Just need to let free
I found the power of the crazy world
Now I'm going to win!"