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The End Of The Quest? - 50%

metal22, October 30th, 2013

This is not technically a 'bad' review, it is merely me wondering if these power metal kings are at the end of the road. After three flawless albums (Neverworld Especially) one had to face the inevitable: how long can Power Quest carry on in this manner before running out of ideas? Master Of Illusion answers the question. It is not a complete loss but for PQ standards? I'm afraid its just not the same. Occasional moments of melodic brilliance are overshadowed by the band's questionable step towards a heavier, harder sound. It seems that Master Of Illusion takes itself too seriously. Not that the band should't take themselves seriously, but Power Quest is about lost kingdoms and emotions like hope and freedom. By trying to make a 'mature' album they have lost that amazing PQ sound.

The album is definitely heavier than the others, and one has to wonder if Alessio Garavello has the voice to match. It is still as good as it always has been, but it doesn't work with the melodies that Steve Williams has created. For example 'Civilised?' has a hard rock feel to it, and Garavello's voice seems out of place. This may just be because fans have become so accustomed to his voice singing the 'old' style of Power Quest. Either way it just doesn't seem to work. The melodies in this album are generally pretty dull with none that stick in your head for weeks after. The trademark catchiness of the band is almost completely absent, but there are exceptions. 'Human Machine' has a cool keyboard part at the start, and some nice vocal melodies, although the lyrics are slightly...odd (the name says it all). Distant glimmers of the past make vain attempts to break out in songs like 'Hearts and Voices' and 'Master Of Illusion'. Unfortunately, whilst each of these tracks have reasonably catchy choruses, the other parts are lacking in creativity.

'I Don't Believe In Friends Forever', besides having a rather cringeworthy name is one of the albums low points. The start is utterly unsuited to not just Power Quest, but to anything. Totally unnecessary and actually quite difficult to listen to, especially as this shoddy writing came from the same band behind 'Temple Of Fire' and 'Far Away'. Quite saddening really. Thats the trouble with many of the songs here, the various different segments of each just don't go well together. It pains me to say it but even the musicianship is declining here, with the keyboards taking most of the leads. Not that I have a problem with that, but some of those much loved glimmering guitar harmonies would have been nice. But no luck there.

Now, on to the very scarce good points of the album. The song 'Kings Of Eternity' is the only track that is actually really catchy. It is a brief reminder of what this band once were: uplifting, heartwarming and highly original. Sadly it is but a brief flash of nostalgia in an otherwise frustrating album.

The aforementioned hard rock elements worked in songs like Edge Of Time and Magic Never Dies, but here they lack the intelligent composition that those songs had, and for that reason cannot be fully respected. While I hate writing reviews like this (especially of bands I love), I have to say it is ultimately a letdown. Maybe some will see past the confused melodies and think that this is the sound of a band diversifying, but overall I cannot help but think that Power Quest have boxed themselves into a corner.

Perhaps not a total loss but one would have expected much, much better. Stick with Neverworld.

Power Quest - Master Of Illusion - 55%

ThrashManiacAYD, October 18th, 2009

Power Metal in the sense of bands like Power Quest at times seems to me to be the greatest oxymoron in music given the inherent lack of power in their musical output in comparison to all the other real Metal genres. The synth-led, highly melodic tunes on "Master of Illusion" follows the same style of at least 95% of Power Metal these days: plenty of virtuoso keyboard and guitar solos, guitars given a backseat role against the synth and saccharine vocals bearing no similarity to the aggression and dominating power of the rest of Power Quest's Metal brethren. The dismally weak "Human Machine" typifies these traits. Never even mind the lack of originality in the field, appreciation seems to be given to those who can produce the happiest, not most original, albums.

"Civilised?" represents the album's highlight largely due to the heavier role played by the rhythm guitars in the chorus, of course being much more pleasing to these ears, though as it is said all good things must come to an end, this 'power' is inexplicably replaced by lead synth that sounds as it was inspired by Sonic the Hedgehog soundtracks of yore, if not lifted directly from them. Little else can be said about the remainder of the album that hasn't been said before about Power Metal as it drifts by with its happy riffs and choruses making me increasingly angry and annoyed. "Kings of Eternity" and "Master of Illusion" sound reminiscent of Europe in that they are entirely-synth lead, and crap. As probably expected given they both found their feet in London at the same time, Power Quest reek of Dragonforce in the likes of "Never Again", making me wonder why on record they haven't risen anywhere near to the level of the 'Force. "Master of Illusion" isn't the worst record I've ever heard but I can't see it ever spinning in my stereo again, and more importantly, at this stage in their career it's difficult to see where Power Quest's fourth album can push them to in either the congested European or American Power Metal markets. For Power Quest's sake it must be hoped they can belatedly catch the coattails of Dragonforce-mania as "Master of Illusion" just does not have the muscle to forge a path for the band on their own.

Originally written for Rockfreaks.net

Modern Day Power, You Know What's Coming - 40%

Flamos, December 3rd, 2008

Ah, Power Quest. With this name you should be able to figure out that this is power metal. Now, you are also wondering is this any different than any other power metal band, right? Well, not really. “Reckoning Day” by Megadeth is covered here which is an odd choice but it’s satisfactory. I mean, the original isn’t the greatest song ever, so the cover won’t make it any better. The first song is titled “Cemetery Gates,” don’t worry this isn’t a Pantera cover. From the first riff you now realize this is another power metal band that loves the keyboard. This is one of the few stand out songs on the album, even though it’s not very original. Hell, none of this is, but you should’ve expected that. “Save the World” is another one I like, the solo sounds nice and the keyboards actually fit with the song.

Now, originality isn’t the only problem here. The vocals aren’t very good, I mean, Alessio Garavello does his job here on rhythm guitars, but his vocals are a little too stale. The lyrics themselves are typical of the genre, very typical. “Civilized?” stands out from the rest by the lyrical standpoint, and it’s somewhat interesting. The album itself suffers from bland lyric writing. The musicianship here is good. Andrea Martongelli has some nice solo work, which does make the album a little more enjoyable. Steve Williams should be considered a criminal here. The overpowering keyboard he plays is one of the more annoying things on this album. Don’t get me wrong I like some keyboards in my music, but damn this is blanketed with them. It’s probably more of the productions fault, but it’s still bothersome all around. Steve Scott on the drums does his job here, nothing more. He has no work on here that stands out, probably due to the lame songwriting. Francesco Tresca’s bass playing is hard to notice, due to production. The line-up is talented, no doubt. I just wish they could show some originality. The modern day power metal scene is heavily overcrowded with the same type of bands doing the same type of music. So none of the talented musicians will be recognized until they break the stranglehold.

The songs themselves are hardly exciting. As I mentioned earlier, “Save the World,” “Reckoning Day,” and “Cemetery Gates” are all good tracks. Sadly, that’s where it ends. Most of these songs are not memorable at all. You’ll forget them as soon as you’re finished with the album. If you’re into the modern day power metal, you’ll probably eat this up. If you’re looking for something original and fresh, this defiantly shouldn’t be on your list. The cool cover is enticing, but be careful. Talented band, horrible release.

Power the Sky/Questador. - 71%

hells_unicorn, July 1st, 2008

In the past few years most of the power metal scene has been moving away from the fast, late 80s style Helloween brand of melodic speed metal with heavy keyboard usage to something more in line with modern AOR music. This has affected some bands more drastically than others, whereas some such as Masterplan, Ride the Sky, Power World, Heed, and Helloween have carried this newer power metal hybrid very well, others such as Nocturnal Rites, Avantasia, Nightwish, Metalium and Sonata Arctica have consequently put out inferior music or even uninspired groove dribble. Somewhere in between these two extremes lays Power Quest’s latest full length offering.

One of the positive aspects of this newer variant is that it has brought a little more variety into the rhythm section and riff element of the formula. When more than 60% of an album is loaded with constant double bass drum work and speed riffing, the concept starts to lose its intended effect after a while. The downside is that sometimes this will also carry a downsized role for lead guitar work and fully remove the standard metal riffing approach altogether in favor of an entirely groove oriented formula. In this respect Power Quest has remained consistent in the lead guitar department, although like on Nocturnal Rites’ “Grand Illusion” has come with a lot of guest solo slots, one by now second guitarist and former Cellador lead player Bill Hudson, and have mostly avoided replacing solid power metal riffs with primitive, tribal sounding groove drudgery.

There are a number of albums in power metal’s not so distant past that could be compared to this, in various respects. The melodic approach and pacing carries a lot of similarities to Ride the Sky, but with a cleaner and richer vocal delivery and three times as many densely harmonized choruses. And much like the short-lived Uli Kusch side project there are actually no obligatory ballads to speak of, only heavy mid-tempo and fast but not too fast up-tempo metal. The keyboard presence has actually been reduced to a level pretty similar to “Plague House Puppet Show”, although despite there being two guitarists in this fold the riff arrangement is a lot tighter than the Twilightning approach. Bits and pieces of the same 80s rock characteristics also heavily present in the Power World debut, which likely were influenced by this band, are here as well.

Overall it is safe to say that the primary influence at work here is later Stratovarius with a slight helping of 90s Helloween. The album’s opening song “Cemetery Gates” has that catchy as hell principle lead riff that manages to be twice as interesting as Stratovarius’ “Eagleheart”, not to mention a lot more guitar oriented. The fact that Alessio decided to pick up the guitar definitely expanded the band’s options riff wise, and they exploit it heavily with occasional rhythmic interchanges and rhythm fills. If it weren’t for the extremely strict rhythmic harmony of this song, and Alessio’s much cleaner vocals, this would be a 100% dead ringer for something on Twilightning’s debut. “Master of Illusion” also sounds a lot like something off of “Delirium Veil”, but with some dense backup vocal work and a pretty evenly unison riff attack from both sides. There is a really abrupt change in feel right before the solo section that throws the listener for a loop, but for the most part the format retains a steady, formulaic nature.

Most of what is on here is extremely catchy and up beat, resulting in an overall listen that is rather straight line. Any sense of climax and tension usually comes out of the guitar solo sections, which is the one aspect of this band that has remained unchanged since they started 7 years ago. The best solo work can be found on “Kings of Eternity”, the Bill Hudson interchange with now wah pedal happy Andrea Martongelli on “The Vigil”, and entire lead section on the album’s closer “Never Again”. These also prove to be the best songs on the album as they reach closer to the melodic speed metal style on “Neverworld” and the debut. “Kings of Eternity”, in particular, sounds exactly like one of those fast and happy anthems like “Sacred Land” and “Into the Light”, but without the constant double bass rumble and an evolved and more complex riff and drum collaboration.

Some of the other material on here sounds a little bit like revised versions of older songs, mostly manifesting as more complex versions of their former selves. “Hearts and Voices” has a radically similar keyboard theme to that Van Halen influenced anthem off of Neverworld “Forevermore”. The keyboard work has backed off a little to make room for more guitar work, and once again the newly reformed two guitar arrangement exploits itself well on here, trading in plain power chord ideas with occasional harmonic screams for harmonic fills reminiscent of late 80s Helloween. The chorus is a little bit repetitive vocally, but the riff layering underneath keep it interesting. “Save the World” is an updated and less repetitive version of “Another World” off the Magic Never Dies album. Atmospherically it’s a little bit more modern and dark, but it definitely keeps that same overall sense of triumph that this band consistently relies on.

Naturally this newer format isn’t without some flawed moments, most of them localized on a few specific songs. Although not hugely offensive to the ears, “I don’t believe in friends forever” tends to meander a little and has some modern rock grooves that rob the arrangement of its tightness. The principle riff sounds a little bit similar to something on Anthrax’s “Sound of White Noise”, while mixing a less memorable chorus section in the usual catchy, keyboard and vocal happy fashion that result in a pretty stylistically confused song. “Civilized?” has a quasi-Black Label Society sounding principle riff, which doesn’t really fit the rest of the song, and tends to clash with the Masterplan/Ride the Sky sounding keyboard theme overtop of it. “Human Machine” is a little better and avoids anything too muddy or over harmonic scream indulgent, but doesn’t really move fast enough or have enough of a chunky bottom end to work as the slower rocker that it tries to be.

As a whole, this is definitely more of an AOR influenced metal album than a power/speed metal album in the respect that the band’s previous works are known as. The band carries it better than a lot of others who have switched over to this sound, but the better route to take next time would be to get back to what was going on when they started, which will likely be possible now that this band has managed to steal Cellador’s principle guitar player away. Perhaps it is a testament to the ongoing power metal recession in the US that hasn’t really end yet despite the advent of said band emerging from the musically barren mid-west of the states and the rise of Dragonforce’s star on the west side of the Atlantic. The majority of Power Quest’s fans might be let down by this album, especially if they’re hoping for more blazing speed like on Magic Never Dies. If you can appreciate slower power metal albums like “Plague House Puppet Show” and the Power World debut, this will treat you a lot better, as it has with me.