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Excellent Progressive Metal Album - 80%

DeathRiderDoom, June 13th, 2010

*Written for the 10th MA Virgin Reviews Challenge

Radakka’s third demo continues the solid work with a collection of cuts better recorded, more technical and more progressive than on their previous efforts. With many shows both in Chicago playing to their loyal fanbase, as well as across the Midwest, and two demos under their belt – a record deal still eluded the Chicago quintet. In fact, it wouldn’t be till the late date of 1995 when they would finally be awarded a contract (Century Media) and release their first LP. While the band’s first effort was largely a heavy metal with US power metal leanings and a heavy vibe, akin somewhat to bands like Laaz Rockit, Sanctus or Omen, their 2nd demo showcased an evolving sound – things had become more melodic, more progressive, while retaining much of the heaviness of the debut, and largely sounded akin to Racer X. In this effort however, the band’s sound has evolved, moving with the times somewhat – they have shed a good deal of the ‘heaviness’ and opted for much more of a typical progressive metal sound – with much of the hallmarks of the genre.

Though quite different to the sound they had on the debut demo, the evolution of Radakka’s sound seems natural; unforced and organic, while the talents of the band as a songwriting unit add to the smoothness of the transition into ever more progressive ground. ‘Black Fantasy’ is a stunning heavy metal cut somewhat like an Yngwie Malmsteen song – with a melodic, standard sounding chorus, softer lyrics, and a solid performance by John Dobbs. Elsewhere the tracks are more progressive; ‘Masquerade’ itself, and the enthralling and complex symphonic ‘Out in the Dark’, which balances sound effects, plentiful studio touches, orchestral intros, and heavy, crunching riffs, as well as prominent keys, and the band’s penchant for memorable choruses. Here they sound akin to Jester’s March meets Queensryche. ‘Thinking of You’ continues to Queensryche vibe, while also bringing some of that Racer X feel, with its big backup vocals and roaring solos.

This is a great demo – it’s pretty hard to say which one of theirs I like best, but I certainly dig the progressive metal sound of this demo a lot. It’s very well-written like the earlier demos and showcases the band’s uncanny knack for great choruses, and brilliantly crafted guitar sections. Watch for awesome guitar leads in the closer ‘Thinking of You’, as well as mesmerizing rhythm sections, crystal clear production values, and emotive vocals. Fans of their earlier demos shan’t be disappointed, even as Radakka displays a tendency to evolve and change. Fans of Queensryche, EZO, Racer X, Letter X, X-Japan, Jester’s March and Yngwie Malmsteen should enjoy this strong 3rd demo from the truly overlooked Radakka.