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Friday, 2 September 2011

Reviews: Edguy, Anterior, Skull Fist

Edguy: Age Of The Joker (Nuclear Blast)

Since their 2006 album Rocket Ride Edguy have been adapting their sound so it is stepping away from the Power Metal of their early releases. With frontman Tobias Sammet sharing his time with Operatic Metal solo project Avantasia, Edguy have become more of a Melodic Metal band than they were. So with new release Age Of The Joker Edguy have cemented their new sound after the patchy last album Tinnitus Sanctus. Starting with the 8 minute epic Robin Hood which melds hard rock and classic power metal effortlessly using great riffing, powerful organs and choral vocals and is full of Sammet's trademark double-entendres. (Reference to the titular hero's 'Little John' is particularly good) The next track Nobody's Hero is a PM stormer and is followed by the epic Rock Of Cashel and the countrified Pandora's Box that has an almost Bon Jovi sound. One of my favourites is the track Breathe which has a high tempo and a great Keyboard lick provided by producer and ivory tinkler extraordinaire Miro. This album is definitely better than Tinnitus Sanctus and mixes Edguy's past and present very well, showing elements of PM and Classic Rock and then sprinkling it with Sammet's trademark voice and with Two Out Of Seven springs to mind. If I had one complaint it would be that some of the songs are not immediate, but with time they become gems. A cracker of an album albeit one that takes a few listens. 9/10

Anterior: Echoes Of The Fallen (Metal Blade)

Anterior are a Welsh Melodic Death Metal band that play in the vein of Children Of Bodom, Arch Enemy and early In Flames. It is very guitar led with Leon Kemp and Steve Nixon playing fantastic dual harmonies and searing soloing from both throughout. Luke Davies' voice is also fantastic but unfortunately it is a bit lower in the mix than it was on their debut, this detracts somewhat from the overall sound of the album but it is still a very good album. However it is a little generic as a lot of the bands in this genre are but again this is through no fault of the band themselves. Starting out with the atmospheric opener To Live Not Remain that manages to encompass both instrumental prowess and crushing heaviness. The tracks following this are speedy thrash filled with some fantastic guitar playing on all of them. The best track by far is The Evangelist which is a head on guitar fuelled assault that is preceded by a very fantastic instrumental that gives the album its name. These two tracks are comparable to Anterior trying to write their version of The Hellion/Electric Eye they are the standouts of an album that is generic but also entertaining. On the other hand the mix of this album lets it down somewhat. Enjoyable but with a small technical issue. 8/10    

Skull Fist: Head Of The Pack (NoiseArt)

Making a big noise while rocketing out of Canada at 100mph Skull Fist are the latest band to have taken the NWOBHM as their grounding. This album is chock full of galloping riffage, helium vocals and delicious fret wankery. Frontman Jackie Slaughter has vocals that are stratospheric they're so high and the guitar interplay between him and Johnny Exciter is straight out of the Priest playbook. This band however have more in common with the NWOBHM also-rans of Raven, Tokyo Blade (who's Attack Attack is covered here) and Angel Witch. This is OTT metal that has its tongue planted firmly in its cheek, songs such as Get Fisted, Commit To Rock and No False Metal mean that the band cannot be taken that seriously but it also means that this album is great fun to listen too. The riffs are super tight, the solos are inspiring and numerous and the overall package is of a band loving what they do and saluting metals heritage. Skull Fist have managed to produce a cure for the Po-faced 'serious' metal bands that are out there. Truly young, dumb and full of...NWOBHM. 9/10   

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