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Looks Like They Got My Power Metal Memo - 80%

Dragonchaser, January 24th, 2023
Written based on this version: 2022, CD, Independent

The first Saints ‘n’ Sinners album showed a lot of promise, but it was a mixed bag with a couple of fantastic songs, and a lot of hard rock-influenced crotch-grabbing. It looks like they got the memo I sent them, as ‘Rise Of The Alchemist’ is a full-scale melodic power metal attack that seriously plagiarizes old Edguy, but does it in such a wonderful way, you couldn’t give a fuck. They forgot to pick up the pace, though, as most of these songs are mid-paced anthems in full ‘King Of Fools’ mode, but so what? Every single chorus is like something Tobi would’ve written in the old days, but it takes a few ideas from later Helloween albums, too. It’s sort of like a cross between ‘Mandrake’ and Helloween’s ‘Gambling With The Devil’. There are only two or three truly fast songs on here, but every tune is well-written and produced to match bands in the big leagues. And their secret weapon in vocalist Mehmet Kaya has only gotten better in the nine years since the debut. He’s lost some of his grit and gone for a higher Dickinson/Kiske style that could rival the best power metal vocalists in the world, and he nails every vocal line to the wall. The plagiarism is a bit much in places, but if you miss old Edguy and the first pair of Avantasia albums, this is gonna be one hell of a treat for you.

‘As Above So Below’ opens things in a theatrical fashion, with big, shining keys, grinding riffs, and a Tobias Sammet Special in the chorus, which is such a perfect blend of ‘Ministry Of Saints’ and ‘King Of Fools’ it’s almost comical, but it’s an absolutely fantastic refrain. Things get a lot more exciting with the following ‘Sign Of Things To Come’, a wonderful double-kicking tune that is straight out of the first ‘Metal Opera’, and it’s one of the best power metal songs I’ve heard in ages. Great harmonic riffs, fantastic vocals, wonderful old school Helloween chorus; it’s an astounding happy-go-lucky romp that would make Freedom Call jealous in a second. ‘Sacred Ground’ proves that Saints ‘n’ Sinners haven’t totally tossed their hard rock stylings in the bin, because if David Readman sang it instead of Kaya, it could be a Voodoo Circle tune for sure. ‘Saviour Of The Damned’ is the most blatant Euro power song this band have ever done, sounding very much like a modern Helloween anthem, and Kaya does a great Kiske impression on this one. This band sounds so good when they are in glorious double-kicking form, I don’t know why they spend so much time writing mid-paced stompers. ‘Ivory Tower’ is another killer track, totally owned by its own hook, but it’s a wonderful song that has a lush chorus you’ll never forget. Things get a little tricky after that.

They have a composition on here called ‘Queen Of The Nile’ that steals the chorus of Edguy’s ‘The Pharaoh’ note for note, and I’m not sure why they felt the need to do that, but it’s an exasperating thing as it’s a cool tune anyways. ‘Death Comes In Winter’ has the best chorus on the album, and is one of the most interesting cuts containing a lot of deft changes, but uses the melody from Savatage’s ‘Christmas Eve/Sarajevo’ as its main riff. I know this is a famous classical piece that Savatage dressed up in a metal context anyway, launching Trans-Siberian Orchestra with it, but it’s been done before, so what made these guys think that was a good idea? It’s annoying as fuck as it’s the best tune here, with Kaya’s finest performance during the chorus. Maybe ‘Dead Winter Dead’ never made its way to Istanbul, I dunno, but this lot are seriously terrible for plagiarizing other bands. They get away with it because they write great songs and perform them with a lot of heart, but for fuck’s sake, you don’t want an awesome song to make you wince because you’ve heard it somewhere else.

Beyond all that, ‘Rise Of The Alchemist’ is an hour long, and with only a small number of fast tunes, it drags on longer than it should. The almost twelve-minute title track has some sweet parts, but just chugs at mid-pace without going anywhere. The whole has a more epic feel than the debut, with a greater use of orchestral keys and bombastic flourishes. They’ve swapped the party vibe for an atmosphere befitting the first Avantasia album, and that is definitely the way to go, but they need to start coming up with more original ideas, as this is a very promising band with a world-class vocalist and a knack for crafting unforgettable hooks. Despite these issues, ‘Rise Of The Alchemist’ is a very entertaining CD fans of Edguy, Avantasia, Helloween, and hell, even Skeletoon and Powerwolf will fall in love with.