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The aftershock that follows the big one. - 91%

hells_unicorn, December 22nd, 2015
Written based on this version: 2000, CD, Loud 'n' Proud

It's a fairly common practice for a band to chase a monumental undertaking with a studio afterthought, usually either a single or an EP that features one of the preceding LP's signature songs and some extra treats in order to keep the momentum going, and there was a massive degree of momentum following Morifade's stellar debut Possession Of Power, the same which would land them a slot on the grand tribute to Helloween Keepers Of Jericho Pt. 1 covering the early speed metal cruiser "Judas". The follow up EP Cast A Spell stands as a stylistic continuation of the orthodox Helloween with a strong hint of early Rhapsody (Of Fire) that adorned their debut, spearheaded by the dominant vocal presence of Stefan Peterssen, and also affording this band an opportunity to hit all the needed bases to make for a smaller collection of songs worthy of tracking down.

The A-side title song of this single oriented EP "Cast A Spell" is one of the more stylistically overt representatives of the Possession Of Power album, featuring a generally fast and Helloween tinged driving feel with a fair bit of Neo-classical trappings, not the least being the frequent employment of synthesized string sections and a prominent harpsichord part. If there was a slightly greater helping of machine gun bass drum work and a few more banshee wails this song could have been on Luca Turilli's King Of The Nordic Twilight. The following song, which appears to have been solely composed as a new song for this release "As Time Decide" is more of an orthodox Helloween styled cruiser that's a bit more guitar driven, but still loaded up with symphonic chime-ins by the keyboards. This, along with the re-recording of the Stratovarius-influenced magnum opus from their brief stint with vocalist Christian Stinga-Borg "Tomorrow Knows" show Peterssen's chops as a superior vocalist, and though the latter song stripped the dense harmonies out of the chorus section in favor of greater emphasis on the instrumental atmosphere, it's a massive improvement from the original version.

This is one of those moments in power metal history that one might chalk up to a guilty pleasure, especially given the campy album art of a blonde bombshell pixie with a tiny pet dragon sitting beneath the sky of some distant planet, but it is a fun experience for anyone that has a taste for the lighter, more melodic strain of fast paced power metal that came out of Germany and much of Northern Europe during the late 90s. In many ways it's a repudiation of the cynical realism of the earlier 90s mainstream rock scene, as well as a heavy point of contrast with the darker extreme metal subsets that took precedence throughout much of the decade in favor of pure, unadulterated escapism. Perhaps the best embodiment of this repudiation is found in the cover of Phenomena's "Dance With The Devil", a mid-80s rock song with all the usual trappings from said era that have been touched up with a late 90s power metal gloss similar to what Freedom Call did with Ultravox's "Dancing With Tears In My Eyes" at around the same time. For aging post-80s power metal heads like myself this has amazing nostalgia value, though for newcomers it's more of a supplemental experience within this band's broader body of work, and is more readily available on the special edition of Morifade's 3rd studio LP.