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Tuesday 3 February 2015

Reviews: Angra, Scanner, Visigoth

Angra: Secret Garden (earMusic)

So the Brazilian purveyors of progressive/power metal return with their first album since 2010's Aqua and much like 2001's Rebirth it features yet another vocalist in the shape of  Rhapsody Of Fire and Vision Divine man Fabio Lione who continues the trend for excellent vocalists set by former singer Ed Falaschi (who notably took over from original vocalist Andre Matos). The music happily is the same with the bands dynamic brand of progressive/orchestral/power metal, Lione's vocals soar over founder member Rafael Bittencourt and Kiko Loureiro's guitar chug and the technical rhythm section, with Newborn Me setting out the stall, before Black Hearted Soul echoes Lione's day job with it's cinematic feel before he can really loosen his pipes on the dark, ballad supreme Storm Of Emotions and Violent Sky which starts off with a percussive verse and builds to a hard hitting chorus. It is almost uncanny how well Lione fits into the band but he is not alone as the the title track just has the enchanting vocals of Simone Simons and Crushing Room has the Valkyrie like pipes of Doro Pesch duetting with Lione. Angra have always been painted as a power metal band but many forget just how progressive they can be and on Upper Levels this is most evident as it has elements of Dream Theater and indeed the classic era of progressive rock and they have always incorporated the music of their heritage to their tracks to with Final Light having the Brazillian percussion throughout. Angra have returned in fine style with Secret Garden, they seem to have their mojo back and as Silent Call finishes the album in acoustic style Angra have once again proved why they deserve their place in the upper echelon of the power metal spectrum. 8/10

Scanner: The Judgement (Massacre Records)

Scanner are a German power metal band with a very turbulent history, splitting and reforming twice in their 25+ year career. The only original member is guitarist Axel 'A.J' Julius but the song as they say remains the same, Teutonic power metal with galloping tracks, aggressive guitar riffs and sledgehammer rhythm section. From F.T.B Fuck The Bastards through to The Legionary there is no let up in the pace, every song is fuelled by A.J and Andreas Zeidler's twin guitar attack, Jonathan Sell's bass and the destructive drumming of Patrick Klose and topped by Efthimios Ioannidis' soaring vocals and gang chants. This is perfect German power metal for fans of Helloween and Accept, but the band widen their remit a little with Warlord which is by far the heaviest song on the record moving into thrash for a bit, while Eutopia is a swaggering hard rock track, Battle Of Poseidon is an epic track that really ramps up the drama before Pirates echoes Rockin' Rolf and Running Wild. Like I said Scanner have had a turbulent history with the band starting and stopping throughout their career, but they do seem to gel as a unit on this record so here's to a more stable and successful future for this talented band. 7/10 

Visigoth: The Revenant King (Metal Blade)

Bursting out of Salt Lake City Visigoth are a heavy metal band steeped in retro classic metal riffs and clad in leather jackets. Taking their name from a Germanic tribe, the waft of German metal is present but for the most part this is the kind of guitar heavy retro metal that The Sword and indeed Grand Magus bring to the table, with some great guitar riffs, rumbling bass licks, tumbling drums and a booming singer the band play some very strong metal starting with powerful title track, then the twisting Dungeon Master is full of pace changes and has some awesome solos, Mammoth Rider has stomps like it's animal namesake and gets your fist pumping in unison with the songs rhythm before speeding up and then slowing down again in to a doom laden final part. The rhythm section is heavier than an anvil in a safe on Mars, the guitars provide a laser guided axe attack moving between the NWOBHM-like riffage and searing solos. The vocals too are amazing, powerful, sonorous and reminiscent of Magus' J.B, especially on Blood Sacrifice. As with many bands that hark back to the early 80's the lyrics are occult and fantasy based with Iron BrotherhoodCreature Of Desire and the finale of From The Arcane Mists Of Prophecy all sound like they are straight from the pages of Heavy Metal magazine and conjure up images of axe wielding warriors, leather clad women and desolate wastelands. If you love your metal full of masculine, chest beating battle anthems, you still wear tight spandex and sneakers and you have the Sign Of The Hammer tattooed on your heart then Visigoth will be right up your street, drawing from Manowar  (Iron Brotherhood is pure DiMaio), Grand Magus and indeed Manilla Road, who the band cover on the speedy Necropolis. With classic metal throughout and just a hint of doom Visigoth have produced a superb debut album for old school metal meatheads like myself!! 9/10  :

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