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The way it's meant to be played - 100%

Darth_Roxor, November 12th, 2009

Hey, heard about this stuff called power metal? You probably respond 'sure I do, corny music for kids about dragons and unicorns that's probably one of the most popular genres nowadays', so I say 'no, it's a genre that's nearly extinct' to which you make an expression of great amazement and ask: 'how so?'. You see, I'm not talking about the kind of melodic heavy metal that was introduced probably by Helloween, and then raped to death by completely talentless hacks like Alestorm or Dragonforce, no, I'm talking about what happened when American thrash bands decided to slow down a little bit and add some melody to their music. Unfortunately, it seemed to have been largely outnumbered by the European brand that started popping up like mushrooms after rain, and even bands that played the American thrashy style eventually started changing - compare Iced Earth's first albums to the later ones, same with Gamma Ray and Nocturnal Rites, that while not really perfect examples of American power metal, they often stayed true to the thrash roots, but their newest albums are shit on almost every level. It would appear, that what I'm talking about in this a bit overlong history lesson is pretty much dead...

Almost.

That 'almost' is Persuader. Dragons and unicorns? You won't find them here. Instead you'll find atheism and apocalyptic visions. Corny? Not one bit. Fucking awesome? From the very first minutes of Strike Down you'll know that this cd is going to be serious, and you'll probably still think that when Wipe Out ends.

What we have here, is balls-to-the-wall thrashy power fucking metal, with no motherfucking keyboards playing any sweet-ass amiga tunes, dual guitars that can do some good soloing, play fast thrash riffs almost all the time (Sanity Soiled and Fire At Will make for good examples of these) but are also not afraid to add melodies over the riffage (To The End might be the best example, Masquerade and Turn To Dust are also fine), and are almost always up-tempo with a few exceptions such as 'Passion / Pain' where they take a slower, more 'grinding' tone. Behind the guitars are constantly banging the drums, which set the tempo for the songs very nicely, and sometimes even include blast beats ('blast beats in power metal? You gotta be joking!' I already hear you saying). And over the guitars and drums are the vocals of Jens Carlsson. Now, I heard people compare him to Hansi Kursch of Blind Guardian many times, but I don't really think it's a valid comparison. Sure, they share the general 'pissed-offness' of their vocals, and have similar voices, but while Hansi goes for a more... 'epic'? style of singing, Jens goes for pure aggression. He's also pissed off like a hundred times more. There are no ballads where he could do slow and calm vocals (and thank heavens for that, because he's not quite fit for them - hear Savage Circus' 'Beyond Reality' and 'Ballad of Susan' for further reference), so instead he delivers very aggressive and powerful singing, borderline shrieks (as far as clean vocals go, don't think black metal), and sometimes goes as far as mild growling.

Most of the songs also have 'epic', slower passages that are more melodic and usually have some extra vocal effort and then explode with the regular sound. It all really makes for a great synergy, and the tempo either rises gradually (like in Raise Hell, starting with a short acoustic interlude, through the chorus and going back to the main riff or pretty much the very last minute of Sanity Soiled) or suddenly (like in To The End's 'the world is coming down closer to the... EDGE!!' or the bridge before the brilliant chorus of Sanity Soiled). But when I say 'epic', don't think 'pompous symphonies accompanying the clash of manly steel', but just moments that make the music somewhat 'soar', when the wall of sound is a bit diminished but the overall composition is very grabbing, if you get my drift.

Honestly, it's hard for me to find any particular flaws in this piece without resorting to nitpicking. Sure, very rarely you can't clearly hear the bass, and the rather awkward samples at the beginning of Strike Down are completely useless, but these are the only - and very minor - complaints on my part.

Apart from the samples in Strike Down there's not a single redundant sound, everything has its place and flows into one perfect whole - from the thrashy beginning in the form of Strike Down, through the splendid chorus and varied vocal usage in Sanity Soiled, the small overall slowdown in Masquerade, the grinding bass in Godfather, the blasts in Turn to Dust, the epic Passion / Pain, the shifting speed in Raise Hell, the melodic To The End, the catchy Fire At Will and to the very last sample of an explosion in Wipe Out.

The last line of the chorus in Sanity Soiled says 'Trade your soul for another day'. That would probably be another day of listening to Persuader.