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Shovelling the cheese - 70%

Andromeda_Unchained, February 8th, 2014

It’s with some measure of disappointment that I write this one. You see, the last Silent Force album was, for lack of a better word; awesome. The material was absolutely fantastic, with Alexander Beyrodt and DC Cooper complimenting each other through the former’s scorching guitar pyrotechnics, and the latter’s incredible vocals. Damn, I love that album, but as you can see, today I’m here to talk about its follow up. Six years on we have the cliché titled Rising From The Ashes, complete with a brand new line-up save Beyrodt and resident sticks-man André Hilgers. Rounding out the gang is a bunch of well known guys within the realms of hard rock and metal; Mat Sinner straddling the bass, Alessandro Del Vecchio tickling the ivory and ebony, and filling in the giant boots vacated by DC Cooper we have Michael Bormann, who despite a more prominent hard rock background, is no stranger to the metal scene, nor that of filling big boots.

As you can probably guess, all of these guys have distinct hard rock and AOR credentials, and part of what hurts Rising From The Ashes is the broader focus on this side of the band. Whilst I won’t deny it was there prior to this album, the difference between then and now is day and night. Rising From The Ashes, save Bormann’s vocals and some neo-classical nods, could have literally been the latest Eden’s Curse album. This is pure hard rock/power metal, with the material essentially feeling like Survivor on steroids. I’m not kidding; you could make a shit load of training montage videos with these songs.

Whilst this is a disappointing factor, it’s not the end of the world, especially if you can appreciate the hard rock/AOR style of songwriting. The album starts on the wrong foot, though. “Caught In Their Wicked Game” is the most characteristic of past Silent Force material, and certainly had me fooled. A spot on tune in itself, but I’m not sure how much I like it as the opener - given the rest of the material.. Bormann certainly sounds good, adding a degree of sleaze and attitude to the band with his husky croon. It’s when the band kick into the second number, “There Ain't No Justice” where they settle into their cheese-leaking current form; for better or worse. I do like the song, but its massive arena keyboards, and metal-lite riffing will likely function as Kryptonite to the true-blood metal fan. From here on what follows can be best described as beefy AOR, expect plenty in the way of spectacle guitar solos, eighties synths, riffs that wouldn’t be out of place on a Danger Danger album, and the trusty old soft verse, heavy chorus trick that characterized the pop metal in the eighties.

Every time you listen to this album you’ll swear your pants are tightening, gawk at your hair curling beyond redemption, stare in sheer horror at the shoulder pads forming in your jacket – which if it weren’t already leather will be soon – yeah, watch out guys and girls. Forget the DeLorean, or the Nocturnus time machine; this is guaranteed to take you back to ’88, of course through modern avenues thanks to the super slick, bang up to date production.

Truth be told, taking the band’s prior work out of the equation, this is a good album for what it is. Whilst it won’t be up to everyone’s taste, the music is without a doubt well written, performed, and produced. I just wish the metal was a little more upfront as it is in the aforementioned opening cut, or the closing “Kiss Of Death” which outside of a sleazy chorus features some fist pumping riffage. These guys are pros, and this type of fare is an area where they’re all dangerously accomplished, I just begrudge the fact it isn’t the glorious power metal album Walk The Earth is. As such, I’ll be sticking to the earlier Silent Force albums, although if a spot of jacked up AOR is on the cards, then Rising From The Ashes will be a surefire listen.