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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.