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Thursday, 26 May 2011

Reviews: Hammerfall, Xerath, Above Symmetry

Hammerfall: Infected (Nuclear Blast)

Power Metal heroes Hammerfall are now on their 8th album and they have managed to create an album that fans who have only heard their 1993 album Glory to the Brave will have wondered whether this is the same band. Hammerfall themselves have described this album as different to previous efforts and they are right. There are certain tracks such as B.Y.H and Immortalized that hint back at the power metal sound that made them legends. The rest of the album has more in common with the other bands that come from the Gothenburg area of Sweden; they have a melodic thrash style albeit with Joacim Cans' powerful melodic vocals on top. Other tracks such as Patient Zero and I Refuse have and almost Sabbath like quality, (I Refuse especially, has much more in common with Heaven and Hell than The Dragon Lies Bleeding). Despite the differences, (maybe even because of them) this is a good although darker in tone album than previous ones. It has 11 strong tracks the best of which is the final track Redemption. Seek this album out if you’re not a fan of Hammerfall and you will be pleasantly surprised, for fans you may say that Hammerfall have 'sold out' with a more mainstream sound but this album is great and a worthy addition to the Hammerfall catalogue. 7/10

Xerath: II (Candlelight)

Xerath came onto the metal scene in 2009 with their debut  I while good this follow up is fantastic a great mix of technical metal that has become associated with the emerging Djent scene but also have a heavy groove that is topped off with anthemic orchestral music. The band is tight and powerful with Richard Thompson's vocals reminding you of Devin in his Strapping mode. That said it is the orchestral flourishes add a whole new dimension to proceedings that stop Xerath from sounding like a Strapping tribute, they give the album an almost filmic quality to the album. II is a heavy, technical and epic album great for anyone who likes their metal heavy and professional with a little something extra. 9/10

Above Symmetry: Ripples (InsideOut)

The band formally known as Aspera have re-released their debut under their new name after another Aspera threatened the Norwegian band with legal action. They play melodic prog metal in the same vein as Symphony X and Fates Warning and because of this they are not doing anything new, but they are doing it very well. They sound very polished and professional despite their young age. The guitar and keyboard interplay is great both complementing each other well, both player being virtuosos. However this is not to criticize the rest of the band with bassist Rein T. Blomquist being a particular highlight. The vocals of Atle Pettersen are also well suited as he has a powerful voice and good range. Although Above Symmetry are sticking to a formula that has been around since 1984 with Fates Warning's debut album they do it very well. A great album if a little similar to others in the genre. 7/10

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