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A definite improvement that was sorely needed - 75%

TrooperOfSteel, September 7th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2009, CD, Massacre Records

Germany’s Metalium has always been a talking point for metalheads in recent years. In metal forums across the world, topics on Metalium have always been animated and colourful, with opinions flying left, right and center about the band’s musical consistency through 7 CDs and their seemingly lack of direction in recent years. For those learning about Metalium for the first time, they are a European power metal band. Without breaking any boundaries or reaching new heights, Metalium’s sound is typical of the power “metal worship” genre; featuring speedy riffs, double bass, impressive solos and mid to high-pitch wailing vocals.

Starting strongly, the band’s first four releases (Chapters One through Four) ‘Millennium Metal’, ‘State of Triumph’, ‘Hero Nation’ and ‘As One’ were perceived as quality albums and received above board reviews around the globe. But from there, Chapters Five through to Seven were definitely not at the same calibre as the first four, and this is where the band has become stagnant and fans have begun to lose interest. While Metalium hardly changed their songwriting style and overall musical approach from Chapters Four-Six, I did notice that Chapter Seven (‘Incubus’) did have some noticeable differences from their previous CDs. Could a desperately needed change actually be on the cards for Chapter Eight?

From the opening track “Heavy Metal”, the song features this line right off the bat: “We are heavy metal, if you don’t like it... Fuck You.” The song is quite heavy with blistering guitars and hard aggression, while Basse sounds fantastic as he belts out the lyrics in almost a pure rage. This is certainly a confident way to begin the album and a big tick given here, as the band retorts to their recent bashing around forums from unimpressed metalheads.

Luckily, the anger and aggression that inspired Metalium to write "Heavy Metal" has filtered through the entire album, with the style and song-writing of a band out to prove/redeem themselves. Examples of this include "Light of Day”, which a slower mid-paced track with Metalium’s trademark wailing guitar riffs and a crunching bass line that keeps your head nodding; and “Crossroad Overload”, a wonderfully written, top-notch melodic track with another heavy bombastic riff, while Basse’s vocals standing out in superiority.

Other standout tracks would include “Falling into Darkness”, which is a swift and speedy track (once thrown into full throttle, after the slow building verses), with an obvious ‘Painkiller’ Judas Priest influence. Basse breaks out the Halford high-pitched shrieks in the intense chorus’, making for an exceptional track; while the final track on the album “Lonely” is another melodic scorcher, with heavy bass and creative riffs and hooks.

The solos too throughout this album have all been quite aggressive and also memorable; with axe-men Matthias Lange and Tolo Grimalt sounding refreshed and revitalized. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by this big effort by Metalium. ‘Grounded’ may have just a few fillers, tracks which didn’t really get off the ground, but the majority of tracks here are very good and it’s easily the best work they’ve done in quite some time. I still feel that Metalium’s songwriting is in a need of a re-tooling rather than a complete overhaul, but at least they are now heading back in the right direction.

Aside from the music, I think it is the improvement and better use of vocalist Henning Basse which makes this CD as good and consistent as it is. Basse’s vocals have never sounded better and he continues to be one of the most consistent power metal singers in the world today. Metalium fans should grab this without a second thought, while power metal fans who may have jumped off the bandwagon should really give this band another chance after listening to this album.

Originally written for both www.themetalforge.com and www.metalcdratings.com (2010)

A final block on this once mighty pyramid. - 72%

hells_unicorn, March 29th, 2012
Written based on this version: 2009, CD, Massacre Records

After over a decade of redefining the concept of over-the-top power metal antics, the millennial phenomenon that was Metalium has now come to an end. In retrospect, it turned out to be something of a mixed run, starting out promising with the likes of Chris Caffery and later Jack Frost offering their 2 cents to what was otherwise a wholly German born outfit keeping up the same spirit brought to the table by the likes of Primal Fear, Hammerfall and Manowar. Terms like metal praise or metal worship could be used to describe their exploits, as they spent about as much time obsessing over their own genre lyrically as they did covering the other relevant topics typical to the genre. But their final testament in “Chapter 8: Grounded” proves to be more of a final sputter rather than a glorious swansong.

After their somewhat lackluster and self-derivative 5th album “Demons Of Insanity”, there’s been this sort of modern-like tendency to their sound that has gummed up what was otherwise a formidable speed metal approach in the instrumental department, and brought in more of a shouting character to Henning Basse’s otherwise crystalline vocal character. In essence, like a number of other German bands that were caught up by what I dub the Edguy phenomenon, the sound in question brought a mixture of slower, less inspired elements that cross into hard rock territory. This album largely suffers from the same problems, as a good amount of the music on here tends to coast on mid-tempo autopilot, while things only occasionally break out into that familiar blend of Judas Priest meets Jag Panzer sound that we’ve all come to love in this band.

Several songs on here sort of go half-way down memory lane, but take care to anchor themselves in plenty of duller, less animated areas along the way. Case and point the rather goofy lead off song “Heavy Metal”, which goes pretty heavy on the rock grooving and comes off as a lost song off of the less than stellar Seven Witches album “Deadly Sins” mixed with Dio’s “We Rock”, spearheaded by an almost tongue-in-cheek lyrical assault that includes the zinger “We are heavy metal, if you don’t like it, FUCK YOU!!!”. While I’d argue that there is a bit more to the whole of heavy metal in this band, this claim would be accurate if it applied to this band 5 years prior. Things get a little bit more muddled on “Light Of Day”, which digs deep into Black Label Society territory on the principle riff, but does manage to throw in some memorable 80s elements also, particularly on the chorus.

But for all the flaws going on here, one thing that is a constant is that the guitar display manages to impress when taking the foreground. Matthias Lange has always been an underrated soloist in my eyes, and his flashy leads on “Light Of Day”, “Slavery” and “Borrowed Time” all but rescue what is otherwise a mediocre rehash of what was marched out on “Incubus”. These songs also happen to be among the least metallic of what is found on here, trotting out ballad and groove elements left and right, but it manages to work well in spite of itself. By contrast, the one complete blaze of glorious speed and fury “Once Loyal” trumps everything else on here, bringing back memories of those magical songs off the first couple of masterpieces this band brought to the table in the late 90s such as “Void Of Fire” and “Stygian Flames”.

In some respects its bittersweet that this mixed bag of a glory ride had to come to an end, but the end of the first decade of the new millennium has seen the end of a number of once amazing revivalist acts that seems to be drawn to the end of the 90s like demons to a soon to be dead sinner. This isn’t quite the bang that one would hope a band like this would go out with, but it’s a fairly respectable album by present power metal standards and has enough of the older sound creeping in to make things interesting. If the past couple Primal Fear and Masterplan albums appealed to you, this likely will too, though perhaps in a less potent way.

Now go to your room - 75%

autothrall, November 25th, 2009

Metalium is a pretty consistent band, especially with the amazing, crystalline voice of Henning Basse at the helm. Most of their albums have had a few good songs and then some filler pieces, and their 8th full-length Grounded tends to follow this pattern. There are some standout tracks that fans will enjoy, but sadly nothing as epic or legendary as "Steel Avenger" (from their 2nd album).

The opening track "Heavy Metal" begins with the lyrics 'We are heavy metal/if you don't like it, fuck you!'. This is pretty dumb, but should immediately bring the entire Deathklok audience on board for this album, right? Aside from the lyrics, the song is actually a pretty fun speed metal number with some glistening melodic riffs, and Basse sounds as sharp as ever. "Light of Day" starts with some dense distorted bass groove, building into a squealing, brickhouse hard rocker. "Pharos Slavery" is a nice, historic power metal song about the Egyptian slaves building the pyramids and serving the whims of their pharaohs (i.e. the cover art of the album). Other quality numbers are the melodic rocker "Crossroad Overload", the Priest-like "Falling into Darkness" where Basse lets the Siren out of his soul, and the bluesy arena rocker "Borrowed Time".

Grounded sounds fantastic, but doesn't every Metalium record? The songwriting here is as strong or stronger than the past 4-5 albums, even if every song doesn't carry the same excitement or equal some of the material from earlier in their career. There seems to be a drought for truly memorable power metal this year, but if you've grown tired of spinning the new Grave Digger or U.D.O. albums then this would be a good fit.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com

Metalium - Grounded - Chapter Eight - 65%

ThrashManiacAYD, October 16th, 2009

I have been feeling shit the last couple of days. Now this could've been ‘cos I'm still suffering greatly from a broken foot; the boredom of not being able to walk or drive anywhere; needing a job (and money); or the book I have been reading detailing soldier's accounts of the horror and bloodshed of the World War I trenches. But then I realised not half an hour ago upon playing a great song from a promising band (who shall remain nameless) that it was the thought of having to listen to, and review, some middle-of-the-road metal albums I have in my queue that has been causing my light headedness and general ill-health. Let's get this over with.

Even as German bands, German heavy/power metal bands for that matter, go, Metalium are metal. Christ, the first track on this, album number eight, is called "Heavy Metal" and begins with the not-so-subtle refrain of "We are Heavy Metal/ If you don't like it, Fuck You!". It's all enough to rival Manowar's classic "If you're not into Metal, you are not my friend!". Really, anyone who has any interest in this particular aforementioned field of the metal landscape will already be pretty clued up on how Metalium sound. To the band's credit though lets add this; they are better than the majority I've heard. Even by the end of song four out of ten, "Pharos Slavery", one of the best tracks on the record, I have heard greater variation in riff and tempo than across the entirety of countless other (German) heavy metal albums. Referencing all the usual suspects en route, Lion's Share come to mind the greatest, Metalium play metal so pure in spirit you can almost hear the leather trousers squeak and shuffle as headbangers like "Crossroad Overload" are dished out, guaranteed as they are to ensure the smooth downing of beers across German gig and festival venues the year round.

Given the variations in moods and speeds found across the album, Metalium have at least earned some praise towards "Grounded – Chapter Eight", however there is a line with how far a band should mix up the tempo when the result can be a distinctly Bon Jovi-esque "Borrowed Time", being far too soppy and slow for a band who clearly pride themselves on their metal pedigree. When the accelerator is pushed however Metalium can at least pen a tune that will go down a treat on the summer festival circuit; "Pay The Fee" and "Once Loyal" being effectively rousing up-tempo speed metal numbers that while hardly unique do retain a sense of purpose to their direction. Through either blind luck or careful song construction (I'm inclined to side with the former) Metalium have got the chips on their side as "Grounded" comes out featuring just enough identity to favour strongly against some horribly uninspired and dull competition; this isn't a classic but it's saying something when this is better than 90% of the heavy/power metal field with a...

Originally written for Rockfreaks.net