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Noontime in Shadowland - 73%

autothrall, January 25th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2014, CD, AFM Records

Sinbreed's 2010 debut When Worlds Collide was a solid enough addition to the decades-spanning German power metal dominance (in popularity, if nothing else); but not exemplary to the degree that it could rival Frederik Ehmke's more recent, celebrated employer Blind Guardian, which was the opportunity of a lifetime. Several lifetimes, really. To the drummer's credit, he didn't just go and drop the lesser known commitment, but even managed a bit of brilliant backwash by drafting Guardian guitarist Marcus Siepen to play on this disc, as well as a bunch of other illustrious guest stars like Tankard thrashaholic Andreas Gutjahr throwing down a lead, and a few more I'm not quite so familiar with. Ultimately, the goal here is to continue establishing the Sinbreed brand with a record that surpasses its predecessor, and I feel that within about half the album's play length it has already reached that point, by a fraction, though I'm not quite sure I'd equivocate them amongst the top tier acts of this particular country and scene.

Herbie Langhans continues to voice his slightly silky, slightly acidic timbre to a refined set of riffs that at points through Shadows presented me with the hypothetical union of what it might sound like had Andi Deris been chosen to front the first few HammerFall records in place of Joacim Cans. He does get a little more grit in there than Deris, especially when he's barking out in an edgier mid range, but lacks the truly sticky melodies so consistently delivered by the other. In other spots, the texture and layering of his delivery manifests a lot of Piet Sielck and Jens Carlsson comparisons, which is a given considering this band runs in pretty much the same circles as Iron Savior, Savage Circus and Persuader. Firm and driving rhythm guitar components dominate the songs, seasoning up a handful of rather bland chugging patterns with sleeker, melodic chord progressions in tunes like "Bleed", but even though they cater to a crowd very likely to also enjoy anything from U.D.O. to Stormwarrior, I still felt like there was a distinct lack of memorable individual riffs; for all the professionalism and variation on parade, the album is still conjured from a set of German power/heavy metal tropes that feel a little on the safe side, already delivered with far more bravado on those first two Iron Savior discs, far more balls on Primal Fear's better efforts.

But of course, if decades of power/speed charge licks worked on you then, cuts like "Far Too Long" are very likely to work on you today, and I'm not entirely immune to their charm. The album is mixed clean and bright, perhaps clean to the extent that it feels a little forced or processed in its struggle to deliver just the right amount of 'punch' to those rhythm guitars, but consider the peers these folks run with, I don't think that's going to prove much of an issue. Leads are uniformly well tended, with a few classical hints in construction, never outlasting their usefulness. The choruses are generally pretty standard for this German power anthem style, most built from fragments of better songs to come before, but there really wasn't a weak one among the bunch, even though they don't do much to rival the classics in the field. All told, Shadows is a little more exciting than their debut, and marginally superior, but they're just not the most interesting band in this scene. I liked the slightly thrashier, angrier touches, the few touches of choir-like vocals ("Broken Wings"), and the polished razor atmosphere of their approach, but the songs are just north of standard fare. Unless you're heavily invested in the sub-genre, there are far better albums to turn to for the same thrills.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com

The cloak-toting breed returns! - 91%

hells_unicorn, June 8th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2014, CD, AFM Records

It's been often assumed that power metal consists only in the lighter, more keyboard oriented and mainline rock influenced parts of the metal paradigm. However, such assumptions would have to discount a number of very important bands in the style, among the younger crowd in this category being the German born Sinbreed. Indeed, the point of derision usually resorted to when non-fans of power metal approach the style is to observe a so-called lack of power, indicating that such a label should boast a strong fist-to-the-face approach not all that dissimilar to the old guard speed/thrash approach of the mid 80s. With this particularly outfit and their latest studio outing aptly dubbed Shadows, not only is this standard satisfied, but ratcheted up to the point of being comparable to an iron boot, adorned with steel spikes, right to the jaw with the force of a mutant soccer player.

The pedigree of this outfit is of an uncanny caliber, drawing forth the services of none other than Blind Guardian rhythm guitarist Marcus Siepen to complement the riff assault of the band's principle musical character Flo Lauren. Likewise, this band under a previous moniker of Neoshine introduced said German speed metal icons to their current drummer Frederik Ehmke, whose battery is felt at each turn, helping to churn a series of unrelenting speed assaults upon the ears with militant force and precision. Topping off the arrangement is vocalist Herbie Langhans, whose throaty shouts bring to mind a number of melodic yet raspy impresarios such as Helloween's longtime front man Andy Deris and Paragon's central figure Andreas Babuschkin, and to perhaps a slightly lesser extent Grave Digger's own Chris Boltendahl. The consequential arrangement carries an obviously German demeanor, though Sinbreed stands out by being a bit more modern in character, bringing forth a less 80s cliche sound a la Accept and a bit more of a thrashing edge, though still hearkening back a little bit to said masters of the wrecking ball.

In contrast to this outfit's debut "When Worlds Collide", this album opts for a more consistently fast formula, treading on territory not all that dissimilar from was heard out of the first Savage Circus album. When hearing crushing bruisers like "Call To Arms" and "London Moon" it gets a little tricky to determine where the power metal influences begin and the speed/thrash ones end until the choruses chime in. It's definitely an ingenious balancing act between aggression and hooks going on here, and nothing ever gets lost in translation. At times things can be outright percussive and heavy hitting as during the chugging intro to "Shadows", and at others a slightly more vintage and melodic character emerges as on "Reborn", which has some occasional affinities with an old school Iron Maiden meets Helloween approach, but there is a constant combination of rage and order going on that holds the whole thing together like a massive strip of Gorilla tape. In truth, the only place where things take a somewhat subdued turn is the acoustic intro of the closing epic "Broken Wings", which sounds almost like it was lifted off a 90s Blind Guardian effort, and even then the sense of serenity quickly dissipates in favor of more riff-happy goodness.

It's not very often that iconic bands can emerge from the proverbial shadow of a longer established band of the same sense, but if Sinbreed continues the road that it's been on the past several years, they may prove to become exactly that. This isn't a super-band in any sense of the term, but rather a solid band that have the honor of being connected with one of the best known names in German power metal. Every piece of this colossus of an album is a methodical expansion and improvement upon what made its predecessor a surprisingly strong addition to an already well populated field. It's not an album that should be overlooked by any fan of metal, be it melodic or otherwise more aggressive in nature. This is essentially where Demons And Wizards and Iced Earth should be at present, and will probably appeal greatly to those who follow their output with any degree of fervor. Run like the wind Frodo, for this Nazgûl's shadows neither rest nor relent.

They won't rest until you bleed - 88%

Andromeda_Unchained, May 19th, 2014

I’ve took my sweet time in getting around to giving this the write-up. It’s been on my playlist from the minute it dropped, and a week doesn’t go by where this isn’t blasting from my speakers at least once. The main reason I’ve dragged my feet, is the album is ridiculously instant in its affect, and I didn’t want to over-score. Nonetheless, its impact remains mighty, and so far, stands as my favorite from the year. I enjoyed Sinbreed’s debut affair When Worlds Collide, but Bleed is a different story; towering above the last one with ten fist-banging, rip-roaring cuts, of furious power metal.

The Germans waste little time in conjuring the riff storm, raging throughout the album’s fifty minutes with classic speed/power metal values channeled through (insanely) modern values. Bleed is almost exclusively up-tempo, which could come across a little one-dimensional for some, although I can assure there’s a pleasant dynamic throughout. It isn’t early Stormwarrior or Dragonforce levels of in your face; but Sinbreed do certainly go for the throat, with relatively unrelenting force. The command, and balance between explosive, Teutonic power and sublime melodic sections is deft, and at times recalls the formative approach of the German guard as opposed to the more saccharine late nineties approach.

Having half of Blind Guardian on the payroll is naught to sniff at either, and it’s seriously great to hear Marcus Siepen thrashing riffs like he did in Blind Guardian’s early days. Along with resident ax-slinger Flo Laurin they form a duo similar to that of Marcus and André Olbrich, flinging riffs and melodic leads like it’s nobody’s business, class! Seriously, RIFFS! It’s easy to lose yourself in a head-banging frenzy here.

Of course dishing out the ass-kicking music isn’t always enough, and Sinbreed houses a wonderful vocalist in Herbie Langhans, who is at his finest here. His style is certainly of the raspier variety, and imagining a mix of Andi Deris and Tim Aymar wouldn’t be too far off the mark. Plenty of powers in his pipes, ensuring the choruses soar; and just about each one buries itself like a tick. Particularly killers can be found in “London Moon”, “Reborn”, and the mega title track.

Sometimes the best albums don’t have to be insanely original, or genre-defining - and I can assure you won’t find much of that here – but there’s something to be said for the straight up, face melting metal album. Bleed is one of those, and is undeniably complete with pretty much everything which makes the genre so good. In a year where the German power metal acts seem to have made a pact to own the competition, it seems Sinbreed are the most determined in their oath. Pure, unadulterated bliss and I whole-heartedly recommend it. Another one to ram down the throats of all who call power metal wimpy!

The Production Almost Ruined It - 90%

mjollnir, April 12th, 2014

Sinbreed is a band that formed in 2008 but has roots going back to 2000 when the band was called Neoshine. This is the band that current Blind Guardian drummer Frederik Ehmke has played for since before joining them. Marcus Siepen was also recruited in 2012 appearing on this, their sophomore release called Shadows. I must say that this is my first exposure to this German quintet and I must say that I'm quite impressed with the musicianship on this album. They play a euro-power metal that you would expect from a band that includes the aforementioned members. What we have here is actually a most enjoyable album loaded with riffs and melodies that are extremely catchy.

"Bleed" gets things going in your typical heavy metal opener way. This is a speedy number with catchy melodies and plenty of good riffing. The chorus is catchy and melodic and the vocalist is quite good. Imagine a wee bit of Jonny Lindqvist(Nocturnal Rites) mixed with a good bit of Danny Cecati (ex-Pegazus) with a Mark Tornillo rasp. This song is full of hooks and the guitar work is massive. We all know what Marcus Siepen is capable of but his partner in crime, Flo Laurin, is really good as well. This is a great album opener and sets the mood for the whole album. "Shadows" is a pummeling number with a massive main riff and soaring vocals. Once again the hooks pull you in and the chorus will have you singing along. This really isn't your typical euro-power metal. These guys write songs that have their own identity and makes for a really enjoyable listen.

I must take a minute to talk about the production. That really is the only drawback here because it's extremely overdone. The drums are triggered as fuck, the guitars are loud and the bass is non existent. I'm not one to be real anal about the modern production but this is a prime example of modern production doing more harm than good. I almost did not give this album a chance because of it. I'm glad I did give it a chance because the songs make up for it, big time. "Call To Arms" is a prime example because the melodies, the hooks and the riffs will make you not dwell so much on the production. Once again, these guys can write catchy songs that are all anthems in their own right. They rely on speedy riffs and melodies to pull you in. Another crusher is "Leaving The Road" with it's massive riffs and melodic chorus goes right into a beautiful solo. This is a song that kinda reminds me of Afterlife era Nocturnal Rites.

"Songs like Far Too Long," "Standing Tall," and "London Moon" are speedy rockers that do not deviate from the formula at all. I can't talk enough about the melodies in the choruses here. They are really good and really are the magic in these songs. The riffs are plentiful and even more epic soloing by these awesome guitarists. Then we have a song like "Black Death" is a mix of everything happening on this album. Speed, riffs, hooks, and melodies as well as some parts more galloping that speedy. This is a monster of a song and maybe my favorite on here. "Broken Wings" rounds out this opus with it's beautiful, acoustic intro leading into some epic, massive riffs. What I thought may have been a ballad turned out to be an epic anthem. What a way to round out a great album.

For an album I almost wrote off as not listenable, I'm glad I gave it another shot because this is a great album that grows on me with each listen. Yeah, the production still gets to me here and there but the songs win me over in the end. These guys got a great formula and I hope they can keep the momentum going.


http://elitistmetalhead.blogspot.com/