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The Echoes from the Old School Roller-Coaster - 83%

bayern, January 13th, 2018

Germany was a happy place to live in the early-90’s as the big country was only too willing to shelter most of the old school genres, giving a particularly strong boost to the power/speed metal movement by promoting new stars (Iron Saviour, Brainstorm, Primal fear, etc.) from there to assist the still operating veterans Helloween, Scanner, Running Wild, and Not Fragile.

Our friends here appeared earlier, as a matter of fact, in the late-80’s to be precise, but failed to create anything tangible by the end of the decade. Having realized that the old school would be given a few more years of life during the 90’s in their homeland, they rushed to take part in the new bustling movement, and quickly assembled a 4-track demo. A potent combination of power and speed metal with a pinch of the good old thrash, with its feet firmly on classic soil, it nicely paved the way for the arrival of the album reviewed here.

With all the four cuts from the demo featured, this opus doesn’t quite fit into said wave as “Meaning of Life” comes with a more urgent, angrier thrashy chug, and with darker atmosphere recalling the Angel Dust works of the 90’s. Not much “eagle fly” freedom at this early stage the latter eventually showing up on “The Truth” which is close to being emblematic power/speed metal the good clean emotional singer greatly helping the cause. Comes the title-track, though, and more progressive structures are brought forward with frequent balladic insertions, choppier rhythm-sections, and great virtuoso lead sections.

“The Fear” borders on thrash again with edgier guitars and a few more energetic “excursions”, but “My Way” is an admirable speed metal roller-coaster ala Not Fragile with interesting bass pirouettes and more lead-driven virtuosity. However, the guys’ flirtations with the more aggressive ways of execution cry for bigger expression, and here comes “Prisoners of War”, a short vitriolic thrasher that would have made it easily to the Necronomicon or early Deathrow ranks. “Suicide” stays on proto-thrashy ground with flying speed metal deviations making things more interesting and also more complex as the alternation between the two sides creates a lot of drama which reaches a culmination on the short classic instrumental, lead-driven beauty “Katharsis”. “Age of Fear” is a wayward semi-galloping power/thrasher the dominant mid-tempo stride intercepted by a couple of more energetic dashes those also amply provided on “False Prophets”, an assured speed metal hymn with a steel galloping rhythm-section.

With its more surging thrash-peppered nature this opus can also be placed next to the early works from the technical/progressive thrash movement (Salvation, Secrecy, Brainamputated, etc.) from Germany as well although there isn’t too much complexity or technicality roaming around here. A close soundalike would also be another German stalwart, Squealer, the first two albums in particular, as the penchant for juggling between the three genres, oftentimes within a single track, is very similar. With the two waves marching assuredly onward all the way to the mid-90’s and beyond, it was a pity that the band never broke the one-album-wonder spell.

They gave themselves another chance under the name Horrorscope, but apart from an isolated 3-track demo (“Artificial Child”, 1993) nothing else came out of this new enterprise. The final destination, the Flacmans Port, was reached early; the guys have anchored there waiting for the next aftermath of the classic power/speed/thrash metal kaleidoscope…