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The fire is still quite alive. - 80%

hells_unicorn, June 28th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2012, CD, Inner Wound Recordings

For every band that achieves some degree of stardom via the stage, there is always a fair number of other individuals toiling behind the scenes to provide part of the foundation of their success. This is naturally not limited to studio hands, promoters or whatever crew members contribute to various live appearances, but goes as far as those who either influenced or directly shaped the individual musicians of an act, or in some cases an entire scene. Mario Pastore is one such individual whom, in similar fashion to the likes of Piet Sielck and Andy Sneap, became better known as a behind the scenes guy despite also being a gifted performer in his own right who spent much of his time instructing such noted São Paulo vocalists as Edu Falaschi, Danilo Herbert and several others. In like fashion to the aforementioned studio engineers/producers turned stage musicians, Pastore took on a more direct interest in the metal scene about 11 years ago by founding a band under his own surname and releasing a collection of highly proficient modern heavy metal albums in a style heavily informed by the German speed/power scene spearheaded by the likes of Primal Fear, Mystic Prophecy and Grave Digger.

Though this outfit has maintained a rigidly stylized and predictable format, their second LP offering The End Of Our Flames is arguably the most straightforward and accessible of their output thus far. Song lengths and structures are kept in the traditional bounds of old school heavy metal, but the demeanor of a decidedly modern and punchy character that is actually about as reminiscent of where the speed metal sound of the late 90s to early 2000s was, as noted in releases at that time by the likes of Seven Witches, Metalium, the short-lived offshoot of Sacred Steel and early vehicle of Alex Koch Spiral Tower, and even to a small extent Ripper era Judas Priest. It falls just shy of being one-dimensional, but is largely a straight shot of heavy ended groove and speed that caters mostly to the vocals, which is where the band truly shines as Mario Pastore is an absolute beast at the mic. There is definitely a fair amount of Kiske/Tate trappings to his cleaner vocal work, but in similar fashion to Alex Koch, and owing probably to Mario's background as a thrash metal vocalist in the early 90s, he is just as competent at delivering a gritty growl or shout that often mirrors Ralf Scheepers' nastier vocalizations, but occasionally hits Boltendahl territory.

Subtlety is the lowest priority wherein this album is concerned, as any semblance of mystery is utterly obliterated within the first few seconds of the blister, past-paced semi-thrasher of an opener and title song "The End Of Our Flames". This take no prisoners approach is thus replicated in near identical fashion over the next several songs, at varying levels of speed, until hitting what can be best described as a melodic groove thrashing beast of a song in "Liar". The frequent references to the obscure late 90s German act Spiral Tower find particular warrant on this riff happy, quick galloping bruiser that comes off as similarly intricate and versatile as "Heartkiller" off said band's long studio offering. Chasing this monster of a song is a creepy semi-ballad "When The Sun Rises" that brings to mind the approach Judas Priest took to this style of song on Jugulator, though with vocals more informed by late 80s Geoff Tate. If there is any noteworthy flaw in the total package offered up here, it is found in the pacing, as the more impact-based and faster material is front-loaded onto the first half of the album, whereas more punchy groove anthems like "Unreal Messages" and "Bring To Me Peace" dominate the second half, though said songs do allow the bass work to get a bit more sunlight than is typical to this style.

It is pretty much a foregone conclusion that anyone with even the slightest affinity for the straight up speedy and fun filled heaviness that has long been a staple of the harder side of the German power metal scene will probably like most of what is on here. This isn't quite up to the same caliber as the recent output of Primal Fear and Mystic Prophecy, largely because it opts for a less varied approach and presents a picture somewhat closer to Tim Owens' infamous one-off solo project Beyond Fear and the dark horse third offering of the same vocalist's former band Winter's Bane in Redivivus (which was auspiciously fronted by Alex Koch, whom Mario Pastore sounds remarkably similar to). All the same, this is a band that knows its own strengths and caters to them all but to a fault, culminating in an album that is musically competent on all fronts, yet vocally spectacular to the point of outclassing Mystic Prophecy in said respect. There are many flame-ridden monsters out there reaping destruction upon the metropolis of mainstream society, but this one definitely makes enough of a distinctive mark to be worth the time of even the casual consumer of German-tinged heavy metal, albeit from Brazil.

Average, by every stretch of the word - 50%

Andromeda_Unchained, October 15th, 2013

The End Of Our Flames is the sophomore effort from Mario Pastore and his eponymous project. Taking a relatively standard heavy/power metal approach, Pastore and the boys dish out eleven tracks of vocally driven, riff based metal which certainly springs to mind German acts such as Primal Fear or Sinner.

Mario Pastore is undoubtedly the star of the show here on The End Of Our Flames and his performance is passionate and powerful, with his style coming off as a blend between Ralf Scheepers and Edu Falaschi which is as great as it sounds. The music itself is as prior hinted, fairly standard in its approach; with concise riff driven tracks which afford little time for instrumental showcasing. Each instrument keeps in check with the song, allowing for the main focus to be on the vocals, which with a singer as good as Mario can be understood, although I’d have preferred a little more depth.

Whilst the majority of the tracks are well done, and enjoyable enough, I don’t feel Pastore serve up anything to really get your teeth into, or even leave a lasting impression. You can happily sit through The End Of Our Flames nodding on your head to each track, although once the closing note of “The World Is Falling” rings out, I’m sure you would be as hard pressed as I am, to remember any particular moment across the album.

Coupling the lack of memorable material with the deficiency in depth, The End Of Our Flames leaves me cold despite the overall talent displayed. In fact, I’d say this sounds to me more a solo album than it does a band effort, and if you’re at all familiar with solo efforts from the likes of Ralf Scheepers, or even Jorn Lande then you can be sure of what to expect here. Solid at best.

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