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Thursday, 11 July 2013

Review: Evil Masquerade (Guest review by Nick Hewitt)

Evil Masquerade – Pentagram (Dark Minstrel Music)

Having always been a massive fan of Firewind I was nothing short of gutted on hearing the news that lead singer and energy of the band Apollo Papathanasio had left by “mutual consent”. So, I decided to follow one of my favourite personalities in the business and checked out his other offerings to the metal industry. In doing so I came across Evil Masquerade; a Danish outfit set up by Henrik Flyman (Formally of Lacrimosa) and their 5th and new album Pentagram. Pentagram opens up delightfully with the title track offering a pounding galloping riff that the likes of Iron Maiden and Deep Purple would be proud of. Shortly the rough yet tuneful voice of Apollo's that I have come to love kicks in with a heavy rock sound. The track rolls on with some simple but beautiful solos from Flyman and speed changes that hook you into the darkness that album delivers. Without a seconds’ break the album slides flawlessly into A Silhouette, this grungy track drops the album to a darker level with Apollo and Henrik combining to make the track flow wonderfully with the slow sharp drumming from Dennis Buhl perking up your ears and keeping you enveloped in the journey.

The next few tracks; Perfect Disgrace and Spirits Of The Dead pick up the pace of the album, again with the earlier sprinklings of Iron Maiden and Deep Purple present and now the lyrical undertones of which the late great Ronnie James Dio. The Spirits Of The Dead is a highlight of this album as it demonstrates the brilliance of Apollo's voice. The sheer anguish he is able to deliver really pulls you into the track, particularly when accompanied by a thrilling solo courtesy of Flyman that further compounds the emotions the band are trying to convey. As a band they are trying to take you on a musical journey, as they have done on previous albums they are very much an album band rather than one making a collection of songs. The dark emotion filled track Moonlight Fantasy hits you right in the guts and slows the pace of the album.

At this point in the album we reach somewhat of a lull in the journey as tracks such as Unholy Water, Pray For Mercy On Our Souls and Soul Taker chug on through dragging slightly. Despite the talents of both bass’s player Thor Jeppesen and keyboardist Artur Meinild adding a little more melody to the tracks they fail to grip you as previous chapters of Masquerades journey did which does become slightly annoying. Although this is by no means the end as the band once again pick up the dark pounding grunge influences and power into On A Bed Of Thorns. Which starts out slow but bursts into a track full of raw emotion, anguish and defiance this track is another particular highlight.
The journey comes to a slow but eventually thumping end on When The Fire Dies and instrumental track Golden Ratio are released. Meinilds’ keyboards take centre stage at this juncture as Apollo’s vocals bring the sense of ending to the journey. The general feeling of When the Fire Dies is that of a retrospect of the album, as it mixes all the power, grunge and melodic elements of the album into one lump, eventually summing up the tone of the journey and album with the climactic instrumental Golden Ratio, leaving Flyman to have the final say on his guitar with a thundering statement of closure.

This being my first true listen to any Evil Masquerade material I have to say I am very impressed. The entire band has talent… this is obvious. Their ability to be able to draw the listener into the journey is brilliant. Many albums have done this to me but the combination of Apollo’s expressive vocals and Hendriks’ poignant guitars are able to make you feel a little more than most albums. The down side is that there are one too many songs in the album that seem a little irrelevant compared to the majority of the songs on offer and really stagnate the journey that Evil Masquerade attempt to take you on. This for me is a great place to start when considering Evil Masquerade, quality dark powerful emotive music clearly influenced by some of the greats. 8/10

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