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Some thing here, that do not work together... - 55%

Lane, February 22nd, 2013

Bulgarian heavy metallers Rampart strike with their sophomore album 'War Behest'. The lineup features just one member from the last album 'Voice of the Wilderness'. Forming member Maria Doychinova is the vocalist, so all instrumentalists are newcomers. Guitarist Vili Neshev had his chance to create a metal opera, and here it is.

Music-wise this is nothing like opera, as this is pure heavy metal. It could be called as true heavy metal, as it contains influences from NWOBHM, German Teutonic metal and US true metal. I was rather surprised, that the intro is the only occasion, when some sound effects are heard. What we get is anything from attacking metal styles to symphonic metal, and to progressive rock elements, calmer and harder bits and surely some heroic power metal stuff, too, besides some Slavic vibes. There is enough of variety in the music, but never excessively. The music is easily the best thing about this album, even though it cannot be called as unique in any way. But this opera bit... I really do not get a feeling, that songs relate to each other. Still, there is a tale here, but to tell the truth, booklet's colour choices are horrible: tiny red text on cyan background. It causes me headache to read it. I should comment about the cover artwork: It is great, and should really strike from among computer generated abominations when browsing CDs in a store.

The vocals are nothing like opera either, but heavy metal singing. And Maria is the only vocalist heard, unlike on many metal operas. For some reason, it sounds like Maria's range has narrowed down since the debut album. She just sings off-key, then uses her voice vibration to reach a better note. Plus, her voice isn't that powerful, but still she tries to sound like it was. The vocals do not fit at all with the music, I'm afraid, because the music would need a voice that's much more wider and strong. It sounds like it was pasted over the music and not really being a part of it. I was totally disappointed, just because usually it's a step towards better on a new album, but not this time around.

The production is a bit weak for a heavy metal album. The bass rumbles like it should. It's well played with fingers I believe. So you know who it reminds about, right? The guitar tone is warm, but if it was somewhat more biting, it wouldn't hurt. The drums are kind of powerless, especially flapping snare drum. Playing-wise this is okay in all departments. It's not metronome-perfect, but that brings soul to instrumentalists' performances.

From the musical point of view this is well above average. The songs are good, even very good. Otherwise, it's not too badly flawed, except for the vocals, which simply do not fit together with the music. I found this album disappointing after an okay debut. Maybe next time, then. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.