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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 Nazg├╗l's shadows neither rest nor relent.