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Decent US power metal - 76%

UltraBoris, June 2nd, 2004

This is a pretty damn good band, though it, along with some of the other "uber-kvlt" US power metal bands (Omen, for example), comes up short when compared to some of the legends of the genre. I always hear band X, Y, or Z being compared favourably to Iron Maiden, but really the only band that can really pull that feat is maybe Aria, and even they're not BETTER per se, just almost as good.

Well, this is almost as good as Aria. This is far more American-sounding, though not as overtly ballsy as, say, Jag Panzer's first album (now THAT compares favourably to most NWOBHM). This is more epic, sounding more like Diamond Head than Iron Maiden, or maybe even, for a more recent comparison, Lord Weird Slough Feg.

Guitar tone is pretty unusual - along with the vocals, they combine to create a strange, slightly nasal, halfway to Cirith Ungol sensation. Not at all unpleasant, really: something quite memorable in the world if identical buzzsaws and squeaky clean Judas Priest clones. The bass is audible most of the time, and the vocalist is close enough to speaking English to pass. No high notes to be heard here, just some bizarro pronounciation (haunTEEEEED! PalAAAAAACE!! - rhyme that last syllable with "loss").

So is it good? Yeah, it's not too bad. Worth a listen every once in a while; certainly not worth throwing away. It starts off better than it finishes, with highlights being the title track, the fast opener Up From the Crypt and the epic, semi-ballad Spirits of the Dead. Though Death by the Hammer (track 7) is also very good, the last two tracks, Dragon Star and the Asylum, kinda lose me. The Asylum is a long outro piece, from what I can tell, as is the last few minutes of Dragon Star.

At times this album almost - almost! - comes close to being brilliant, in that "To the Devil His Due" (Diamond Head) sense, but it just never quite makes that leap... maaaybe the title track, sounding a bit like Children of the Sea (okay, not really, but the general effect is the same, with just about EVERY power metal band having a song or four that starts off with a similar clean electric riff and then exploding into a louder chorus). The other songs are a bit more mortal, though still quite enjoyable. Overall, not the immensely uber-kvlt classic that it is made out to be, but still pretty well done.