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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)