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What progressive power metal should sound like - 92%

Aeturnus65, January 18th, 2006

Too often do bands get labeled as “prog/power” metal when there’s really very little about their sound that actually resembles power metal. Sure, maybe you’ve got some soaring vocals and a generally smooth sound, but on the whole, when something is labeled “prog/power”, it usually leans more toward the progressive side of things. That’s why a band like Lanfear, despite not being terribly original, is a very refreshing listen. Both the power and the progressive influences stand out, and Another Golden Rage (AGR from now on) is about what you’d expect to get if you were to mix equal parts, well, power and prog metal.

For starters, any band claiming to have anything to do with the power metal genre is only as good as its singer. Bad singers can kill otherwise decent albums. No worries here, though, as vocalist Tobias Althammer is in fine for. He possesses one of those voices that sounds pleasant no matter how high or low he sings. Witness the opening title track, one of the best songs on the disc. From mid-range verse work to that magnificent chorus, Althammer shines. As the song progresses, you find yourself wondering just how high he’s going to go, and never once does he strain. Truly excellent work, Althammer belonging to that special group of world-class singers who somehow manage to remain rather unknown.

As a band, Lanfear seem to have fully grasped the fact that power metal is still an inherently riff-based form of music. Genre fans don’t want to hear extended instrumental passages that serve little purpose other than to show off how technically competent a player you are. To this end, songs are usually compact and to-the-point. Most listeners will notice the general lack of aggression on most songs, and this is where the prog influences creep in. For example, the riffing is relatively subdued, and there isn’t a whole lot of double bass. Likewise, you can largely throw out other power metal staples like palm-muted riffing. Track nine, “Eternally”, even has a saxophone solo, so if you’re more a power metal fan, know that the band haven’t completely forsaken all idiosyncrasies of the prog genre. Lanfear instead choose to employ lighter guitars laced with more leads and less speed, and even throw in some keyboards which are used mainly to complement the leads without actually becoming the lead, if you will.

It’s easy to tell that these guys are talented, but the focus always remains on the songs themselves, and not on ability. Fans of lighter power metal as well as fans of more restrained progressive metal (ie., not fans of Spiral Architect) would likely enjoy this disc quite a bit. The closest big-name comparison I can think of would be Fates Warning, had they continued in the same style of No Exit, with Ray Alder retaining the ability to sing exactly like he did on that particular work. Placed onto something like a Gamma Ray disc, about half of the songs on AGR would seem out of place, or at least be dismissed as the obligatory mid-paced/ballad songs. But like I mentioned above, that’s to be expected, as this disc seriously is just about an equal mixture of light power and dark progressive metal styles. Expect just such an album and you should find no surprises, save for maybe how good this thing really is. Depending on where you look, you’ll find AGR praised rather highly, and for good reason. While fans of bands like Iced Earth and Dragonforce may not really care for Lanfear, most fans interested in the two styles that Lanfear combine seem to agree that AGR is a winner. Highly recommended to those who meet this criteria.