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Take notes kids, this is how it's done - 95%

tahu157, December 7th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Independent

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with “neoclassical” metal. I really enjoy the genre when I hear it but I can usually never shake the feeling that I’ve heard this exact solo or passage several times before. That’s not to say that I can’t enjoy neoclassical metal songs for what they are, but sometimes I just wish the bands would figure out how to do it a bit differently. I can’t listen to the exact same thing forever, y’know? Thankfully, every once in awhile a band will pop up that fulfills that wish and brings something truly fresh to the neoclassical table. Unlucky Morpheus are one such band who pump the neoclassical style full of new ideas with every release.

To achieve this influx of new ideas, Unlucky Morpheus do a bit of genre mixing. While they are a power metal band at heart and always will be, they are not afraid to draw influences from harsher subgenres like gothic and death metal. The result is something a bit more crushing than what the label “neoclassical power metal” usually refers to. If you’re looking for the super clean and polished stuff this won’t be quite what you’re looking for. Don’t get me wrong, the band still spends time in the glory-infused and bright-sounding style that is expected of power metal; they don’t totally throw power metal standards out the window. They do however opt to spend as much time, if not more, in some dirtier and heavier tones and riffs. This is particularly true of the beginning and end of the album while the middle tends to be a little more straightforward, though not by a whole lot.

These changes to the neoclassical formula are all best exemplified in the second to last song, Angreifer. This song is really a showcase of everything the band can do and of all the ideas presented on the album up to that point. It has the glory, it has the crushing tones, and it has everything in between. It is the only song on the album to include harsh vocals which contrast beautifully with the cleans we’ve heard up to this point. It boasts a deliciously long solo section that starts off as a very tried and true neoclassical solo (you probably know the one I’m talking about) but soon drops that for a more screeching shred that wouldn't have been out of place in some eighties shred pieces. The song, and the album it represents, is just a total re-imagining of what power metal can be.

Neoclassical metal is a bit of a stale genre at times. In order to survive it will need to evolve. Unlucky Morpheus seem to have taken it upon themselves to kick-start that evolution. They have laid out the changes that they want to make to neoclassical metal in their album Vampir, and I hope that other bands take notice, because the result is stellar and convincing.