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Taking back the metal, eh? - 76%

hells_unicorn, May 21st, 2008

While it is hardly unexpected for any band of the heavy/power metal persuasion to make bold statements about their musical genre, it brings about the expectation of the band actually delivering something that matches the bold promise uttered in the prologue. When someone gives a villainous laugh and tells the listener that he and his band are “taking back the metal”, you have to dwell upon it and see just exactly what the speaker just implied. Thus the question becomes what kind of metal is our esteemed group of musicians here planning on taking back?

Seeing as “Xiled to Infinity and One” was put together in the recent aftermath of Jack Frost’s brief stint with Metalium (which produced a damn fine album, by the way), it is likely that he imported a lot of thematic ideas from them, although obviously not their love of grand sounding, keyboard heavy narratives praising the heroes of metal. But it seems that the mostly precious metal that was reclaimed by Metalium on “State of Triumph” was not the same as the booty that has been hauled in with this effort, which may have been the result of not sifting the soil carefully enough while at the dig site.

Before we can appraise the loot contained in this rather mixed collection, one should take note of the credentials of the miners that worked this particular quarry. Jack Frost has a fair share of credibility as a pickaxe man and has worked well with veteran gold mine workers such as Savatage and Marshall Law, albeit his approach is extremely predictable and formulaic. Bullhorn wielding foreman Wade Black has had his fair share of assignments with well established crews such as Crimson Glory and Leatherwolf, although his results while directing these mining operations have met with criticism from the various metal miners unions. The occasional assistance of master metal polishers like Jon Oliva (Savatage) and Jon Comeau (Liege Lord) have been employed. However, the rest of the fold are novices that include; the jackhammer man (Billy Mez) who would later go on to a metalcore strip-mining outfit that was justly put out of business by environmental activists (Single Bullet Theory), and the blast worker (Craig Anderson) who later landed a contract with a better version of this batch of 80s power metal dirt lovers (Crescent Shield).

The haul that these metal roughnecks have brought us is a little mixed, which could be construed as a job not so well done if the group was seeking to specialize in a certain kind of metallic commodity. “Metal Tyrant”, “Incubus” and “Salvation” represent the silver that has been harvested from the lot. Although extremely formulaic, they offer some solid galloping riff work and a decent Halford inspired vocal delivery by Wade Black to keep any buildup, due to the moisture from cheese exposure, from tarnishing the ore. “Eyes of an Angel” is the small amount of Iron harvested from Jack Frost’s claim; it is very silvery like the other speed metal offerings on here, but sounds a little more generic. The Grim Reaper cover is the lone piece of nickel in this collection, offering up the same silvery speed and gallop riff goodness as the previously mentioned songs, but with some added weight and ductility due to a ballsy vocal performance courtesy of Jon Comeau.

Unfortunately, despite the collection of valuable silvery metals in this haul, the sifting process didn’t go too smoothly and as a result, some cheap metal and non-metallic sediment got mixed into the bag. “Anger’s Door” is Iron pyrite (Fool’s Gold), it appears to a metal newcomer as an excellent speed metal song, but the experienced eye recognizes it as the most generic and worthless metal you can get. “Warmth of Winter” is an awfully impure pile of modern rock limestone, loaded with stale grooves and a real cheap Layne Staley imitation by Wade Black. “Pain” goes back and forth between being chalk and gypsum, containing varying degrees of brittle/soft rock that fragments and falls apart due to being softer than the metal it’s in the bag with.

Naturally inviting such worthless material to seep into your final collection is worthy of a reprimand from the manager, but thankfully we have two extremely precious metals in this yield that prevents the crew from immediate termination. The title track is a nice hunk of 18 carat gold, patterned into a small epic acoustic/electric number due to its malleability, and never tarnishing after the passage of time. The foreman’s vocal orders have aided strongly in the sheer quantity of this very valuable metal as well, trading easy going encouraging melodies with kick ass screeches to keep the diggers moving. “The Burning” is a small chunk of speed metal platinum, being of a similar pale color like the silvery speed numbers earlier in the album, but with much more staying power and complemented with a nice polishing job courtesy of the “Savatage” Miners’ Guild chairman Jon Oliva.

For would be traditional and power metal fans, this album is a pretty decent buy if you can handle skipping over some of the worthless rock influenced stuff on here. If you haven’t had much experience in this genre and are more of a metalcore/modern rock fan, this might have some crossover appeal to you or even be a place to start if you want to give the 80s version of power metal a try, but veterans of this older style should shop for this at below $10. “Seven Witches” seems to have succeeded in taking back the metal, although the success is relative to what kind of metal they were hoping to get, not to mention that they managed to take back some other stuff that probably would have been better off staying in the dirt.