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The Legions Are Still Aligning - 49%

Larry6990, November 7th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2018, CD, Independent (Digipak)

I really really wanted to love this. Considering the quantity of physical promos I receive greatly outweighs the quality, I looked upon Reinforcer’s debut EP with favour. After all, it’s not just another inaudible bedroom black metal project, this is a Maiden-inspired heavy/power metal CD with great artwork and logo design. I was already biased going into this. Unfortunately, the German quintet had me on the edge of my seat, waiting for that golden moment or shining gem, but ultimately let down by overarching flaws. The Wanderer is not a bad EP, but decidedly average thanks to certain aspects which fall flat.

The production quality is generally decent, aside from a few oddities like the punchy snare drum which is so loud it’s almost intrusive. The guitars are very much the star of the record, being suitably forward in the mix and having all those delicious Maiden-esque lead duels that we know and love. The bass is nigh-on inaudible, and the vocals…well, I’ll get to them later. Overall, it’s not an unpleasant sound, and on the more focused riff-centric tracks like “Shipwrecked”, the ensemble shines (that really is a fantastic opening riff!). The riff writing is generally more than adequate. Imagine a sound akin to Unleash The Archers or Judicator but with fewer bells and whistles to the songwriting. Maybe Reinforcer would benefit from some progressive tendencies?

The vocals really are the main issue with The Wanderer. It’s not simply the tone of Logan Lexi’s voice (which is actually quite powerful), but the melodies and vocal patterns themselves. All melodies seem to stick around the same 5 or 6 note range and, even in the choruses, don’t carry much dramatic weight. A big fault in my eyes is the lack of vocal harmony. Every single refrain is blasted out in unison (occasionally in octaves) when there could have been a decent 2 or 3 note harmony. This would have benefitted the opening title-track so much. I’m not doubting the band’s musical ability to pull off such a basic power metal trait, but it seems to have been overlooked. The lead vocals are also pitchy at times, for which there is no excuse – not terribly, but enough to provoke minor wincing. At least the occasional gang shouts add an extra dimension.

The EP is nicely structured, with the groovy “Snatching Hands” being placed strategically in the middle, and the bands’ anthemic “Reinforcer” finishing off proceedings. But during some of the more dragging instrumental sections, I find myself craving an extra layer of…something. The thick texture at the start of “The Legions Align” is what I’m looking for more of, but the majority of this release comes off as thin and a little unmemorable. There are indeed a few progressive tinges in terms of structure, especially in “Shipwrecked” (man, I love it when they crank the tempo up to real power metal standard!), but I find myself growing increasingly irritated at the Germans’ habit of ending songs before any kind of climax. If you’re easily pleased by amazing guitar solos and well-written riffs, by all means, check out Reinforcer. Personally, I will wait for them to add those missing characteristics that will lift their output from ‘decent’ to ‘great’.