Archive for American Power Metal

Hellscream – Made Immortal

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , on 14th November 2014 by izaforestspirit

Hellscream
Made Immortal
Released March 2013
Heavy Metal/ Power Metal
Released via Dead Inside Records

‘Made Immortal’ is the debut album from the American power metal band Hellscream which features Norman Skinner (ex- Imagika, Skinner, Dire Peril) on vocals and Dave Garcia (Cage).

First up is the band’s theme tune Hellscream which sounds like a mixture of cheesy (read “squeaky”) power metal akin to the likes of King Diamond with the guitar riffs, speed and “epic” thrash metal feel of Iced Earth. Come to think of it, the vocals are also a weird combination of these two styles. These guys also like really their narratives and voice-over intros – think Manowar meets Bal Sagoth, and you will have a pretty good idea of what I’m referring to. Luckily the second track, Mind Reaper, is less squeaky and much darker than its predecessor not to mention that the guitar melodies and solos are nothing short of impressive.

In fact, it’s safe to say that the guitars are the main good thing about this album. In many ways they are everything that you want from a good power metal band – fast or at least mid-paced, energetic guitar riffs and catchy solos that are easy to headbang or air-guitar along to. Last Charge Of A Bloody Brigade is a good example of how all these elements come together to make a great power metal song. As for the vocals, the singer’s full range can be heard on tracks like Phoenix: We Will Rise. This track sees him attempt not only the squeaky, stereotypical power metal style vocals and the clearer heavy/thrash metal variety, but also growling in order to make the chorus sound more powerful. I must say it’s not a bad effort and it came as somewhat unexpected.

Yet for some reason there is one main thought which sticks in my mind as the album progresses – this reminds me so much of mid-career Iced Earth. Yet unlike their fellow countrymen, Hellscream’s style is not quite as consistent especially when it comes to the vocals. It’s a shame really because the guitars are really top notch on every song.

3.5/5

Iza Raittila

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Skelator – Time of the Sword Rulers [2008]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , on 28th October 2011 by izaforestspirit

Band: Skelator
Album: Time of the Sword Rulers
Release year: 2008
Genre: Power/ Heavy Metal/Thrash

‘Time of the Sword Rulers’ is a compilation album from the American Power metal band ‘Skelator’. It features tracks from their early demos along with some previously unreleased material.

Now what would you expect from a band whose name is derived from the evil character in the He-man comics, album cover featuring a knight and a reference to swords?
Power metal? Check. Squeaky vocals? Check? Ridiculously cheesy lyrics? Check.

Yes, you guessed it, this is exactly what it says on the tin. ‘Time of the Sword Rulers’ is a quintessential Power metal album which is likely to appeal to fans of Gamma Ray and Helloween. The only surprise here is ‘Heavy Metal Sacrifice’ which sounds like a tribute to Motorhead. Fans of Iron Maiden are likely to enjoy the epic ballad ‘The Wrath of Odin’s Sons’ which bears similarity to ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’. Other highlights include: the instrumental ‘In Metal We Trust’ along with ‘The Dark Tower’ and ‘You Traveled Many Miles (For a Heavy Metal Show)’ which feature the characteristic catchy guitar riffs, solos and squeaky vocals that sound best on a sunny day at an outdoor metal festival when you’ve had one beer too many!

Hopefully they will come to metal festival near me one day!

4/5

Iza Raittila

Iced Earth – Dystopia [2011]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , on 15th October 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Band: Iced Earth
Album: Dystopia
Release year: 2011
Genre: Power Metal

Iced Earth are perhaps one of the most well known and well regarded American power metal acts, having toured both the US and Europe. Dystopia is the first album to feature new vocalist Stu Block [Into Eternity], following the departure of Matt Barlow.

The first track of the album is none other than the title track “Dystopia”, beginning with a mighty guitar riff combined with drums. The joining of a second guitar adds more power to the music of the song. The first wail of the song that is heard sounds likes a poor attempt at imitating Gaahl. The tempo increases, adding a thrash element to the music. The vocals aren’t what they’re expected to be – Stu is clearly trying to imitate his predecessors. Though he sounds similar to Barlow in some parts, his attempt to perform similar high pitch vocals to The Ripper do spoil the track for the listener. Already, the album is at an okay start.

“Anthem” has a mesmerising soft introduction that only gets better with the slow, thundering sound of the bass mixed with the tapping of cymbals. The soon turns heavy with a partially melodic twist. The bass stays powerful and thunderous throughout the song working well with the drums – Which is no surprise for an Iced Earth track. The guitar solo adds some new life to the album as well, helping the listener forget about the vocals for a short while. The gang vocals towards the end, with all due respect to the new vocalist, are much better. “Boiling Point” storms its way next like a furious thrash metal anthem. The riffs are violent and angry whilst carrying a certain touch of classic metal. The use of church bells at the beginning adds a very dramatic tension to the music. The use of constant double bass pedals gets tiring after a while as they can be heard from beginning to end. The vocals don’t really add anything special to the song either.

The acoustic beginning of “Anguish Of Youth” takes the listener by surprising and the vocals sound so much different and more distinct. Even when the song takes that heavy twist the vocals don’t change their sound – Its good to hear Block using his own vocal style. The contrasting acoustic and heavy sections are truly brilliant, as is the solo. Following straight after is “V”. The introduction is monstrous – in the good sense – and has a very traditional metal feel to it. The vocals are a let down as they are back to sounding like Barlow. The melodic sections and solo are typically Iced Earth sounding, which will no doubt be a bonus for the more hardcore fans of the band.

“Dark City” is another song to have a soft introduction. The high pitched vocals sound almost like The Ripper – To as whether this is a good thing or bad thing will be left for the fans to decide. The riffs pack a truly powerful punch. The guitar solo has a very old school sort of sound to it, like a Black Sabbath meets Judas Priest meets Saxon kinda sound. The melodic-like riff towards the end teases the listener’s ears with excitement – It’s a shame it comes to a sudden end. The start of “Equilibrium” seems a tad like a slowed down Judas Priest track til the tempo increases. For the most part, the song is as bland as a cucumber sandwich. The solo is the one of two exciting parts of the song – The second exciting part of the song being the vocals after the solo.

The beasty intro of “Days Of Rage” tears its way next as the album draws closer to the end. The vocals are rage-fuelled and raw while the guitars just scream with angst and energy. The one and only flaw to “Days Of Rage” is its short lived length. “End Of Innocence” is the second track on the album to start with an acoustic section. The vocals are lacking the Barlow-Ripper-esque sound though they do become more rough sounding when the heavier sections of the song kick in. The album finishes with “Tragedy and Triumph” which sounds similar to the title track at the beginning. The song feels heavier when the tempo gets turned up by a few notches. Everything during in this song seems to gel well together drums. This one would definitely be the perfect song for driving down the motorway at 70MPH.

For most of the album, the vocals are off-putting due to their similar sound to Barlow and The Ripper though towards the end of the album they work well with the music. Block’s use of his own vocal sound helps improve the album and most of the songs are well composed and have the typical Iced Earth sound. However, there probably will be some division between the fans over this album – Something that generally happens with a new vocalist.

3.5/5

Nico Davidson