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A roller coaster of balls-to-the-wall metal. - 90%

Empyreal, April 19th, 2011

Hibria’s path has been one of expectations and turmoil, as after their breakout classic Defying the Rules way back in 2004, they would have been hard pressed to come up with something that satisfied the fans. The Skull Collectors was fun but ultimately not as good, and we had to wait another 3 years to get their next one – which has arrived in the form of Blind Ride.

Sporting a blazing, fiery cover art and a set of songs that hit harder than a pillowcase full of anvils, Blind Ride catapults Hibria back to the front line. A lot of people seemed confused by this, as it isn’t exactly the same stuff they were doing back on Defying, but it’s really a stellar piece of metal. The songs are shorter but at the same time more technical and daring, as they all feature complex rhythmic and vocal patterns that slowly seed themselves into your brain and stay there. The combination of compact songwriting and increased technicality really makes this one stand out. “Nonconforming Minds” sums up what this album is about – diving rhythms, technical riff/lead combos and the infectious vocals of Sanson. Further bangers like “Shoot Me Down,” the awesome slower burn of the epic “Blinded By Faith” and the careening “Shelter’s On Fire” show a band progressing at a rapid rate. “I Feel No Bliss” is another corker – a tortured, somber ballad with some of Sanson’s most emotive vocals yet.

Iuri Sanson’s vocals aren’t as high pitched on here, but he does let out a carefully planned scream at exactly the right moments. The guitars are dense, rumbling and sharp as barbed wire, with the bass added to the mix for an extra pinch of heaviness and the wild drums making everything sound even more adventurous. The title is apt – this album is as unpredictable and raucous as they get in the power metal genre, a veritable roller coaster of madness, mayhem and raw emotion. Let it grow on you. It cooks and festers like crazy, and it’s damn well worth it. Highly recommended.

Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com

Rocks more than it rolls or coasts - 70%

autothrall, February 5th, 2011

Brazilian power metal might take a backseat to the other, more prevalent genres in the region (death and thrash, specifically), but it's certainly a fairly saturated scene. Granted, none other than Angra have really made strides beyond those borders, but 2004 brought an explosion of potential with the Hibria debut Defying the Rules, a storm of superb riffing and Iuri Sanson's passionate cries. I did not get it up quite so much for the sophomore The Skull Collectors (2008), but it was a fairly balanced attack and certainly not a loss in momentum. Three years later, the band have returned for their third opus, Blind Ride, and it's by far the most modernized of the three, with a dense production and a lot of busy, charging riffs that wouldn't be out of place on a melodic death metal album of the 21st century.

Of course, Sanson's vocals ensure that comparison ends only in the flavor of the guitars, because he's got the same, emotionally charged, accented style as he's used in the past, only with less of the higher pitched screaming. I won't say that he's quite the match of the riffs on this album, because they blaze through with such a focused intensity, leads careening of the verses and bridge that they almost seem to leave him in their dust, but his presence lends a level of wild aggression that might otherwise not be felt. "Shoot Me Down", "Welcome to the Horror Show" and "The Shelter's On Fire" (which sounds a lot like what the band were writing on their debut) are so bristling with guitars that they barely know what to do with themselves, so you're in for a bumpy ride moored in thick, competent bass and Eduardo Baldo's armored, muscular drumming. The overall tone here reminds me of Firewind, or perhaps the past few Nocturnal Rites efforts, only the Brazilians throw a lot more at you.

But does it stick? More often than not, it doesn't. The instrument performances are bewildering to say the least, and the deeper one gets, the chorus parts seem to grow catchier, like the belligerent "Sight of Blindness", the bouncing "Tough is the Way" or the flighty and frivolous "Rotten Souls", but as entertaining as the band is when swallowing you in its talents, these are just not the sorts of songs one will raise his/her fist to in 5-10 years. We'll all still be canting the lyrics to "Steel Lord on Wheels", "Living Under Ice" and other debut highlights. Blind Ride is a minor fascination that has more heft through its speed, pro tone and remarkable musicianship than the durability necessary for a timeless power metal album. Good, not great. Enjoyed for now, absent on the horizon.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com