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Wednesday 20 November 2019

Reviews: Magic Kingdom, Kaine, Meshiaak, The Old Dead Tree (Paul H, Manus & Rich)

Magic Kingdom: MetAlmighty (AFM Records) [Paul Hutchings]

If you trawl through the pages of this esteemed website, you’ll find a review by the Ed way back in 2011. Already immersed in the world of ridiculous power metal, a retrospective review of 2004’s Metallic Tragedy laid bare that this was quite fantastically crazy neoclassical symphonic power metal, showcasing the virtuosity of Belgian guitarist Dushan Petrossi. Fast forward eight years, past 2015’s Savage Requiem and we arrive at album number five, MetAlmighty (see what they did there? Very clever!) Once more it’s frenetic, over the top shred heavy and quite ludicrous in many parts. High pitched harmonies, the blast beats at about a million beats per minute and acceleration that even Lewis Hamilton evading the tax man would be proud of. Lyrically, the songs are the typical fantasy bollocks, with the opening Unleash The Dragons, all 8:45 of it introducing us to new singer, American Michael Vescera who has a set of pipes to rival all those who went before him, including Christian Palin whose sole work with Magic Kingdom was Savage Requiem. Vescera can hit those high notes with ease, his soaring vocal on the silly In The Den Of The Mountain Trolls matching the quite phenomenal noodling of Petrossi.

It’s guitar masturbation at its finest; is there is such a thing?. And it continues from start to finish; fast paced air guitar heaven, the guitar work quite astonishingly brilliant to the point of excess. With English drummer Michael Brush (ex-Control The Storm and current Sirenia sticksman) and Russian bassist Vasilli Mochanov, a stalwart of both Magic Kingdom and parallel band Iron Mask which also features Petrossi, nailing down the engine room, this allows their bandmates to shine. Fear My Fury has added synths whilst Rise From The AshesDemon benefits from some orchestral symphonic arrangements. If you like this sort of thing, then you are probably living with your mum, your clothes smell of damp and you fear the opposite sex. If you think that power metal is overblown dungeons and dragons by ugly blokes who still read Tolkien at least once a year MetAlmighty really isn’t going to change your mind. Choose a side, take your choice. 7/10

Kaine: Reforge The Steel (Independent) [Manus Hopkins]

Ignore the somewhat unimaginative song titles—musically, the contents of Kaine’s Reforge The Steel are enough to prove that the new wave of traditional heavy metal is alive and thriving, and that Kaine deserve a spot as one of its frontrunners. The record definitely recalls the glory days of classic heavy metal, but it breathes new breath into the music at the same time, producing something fresh and exciting. There’s not a weak song among the album’s eight tracks. Between straight-ahead bangers like Loudwire and the title track and longer, more epic tunes like Black and The Dragon Reborn (Rebirth) there’s enough variety that the album doesn’t get boring or run out of steam. Kaine is an independent act with a lot of potential, and at least one great album out. Next, some promotion is in order. 8/10

Meshiaak: Mask Of All Misery (Mascot Records) [Rich Oliver]

Mask Of All Misery is the second album by Australian metallers Meshiaak. Three years after their debut album Alliance Of Thieves Meshiaak are back with an album of melodic groove/thrash metal which nods to old school heavy metal and contemporary mainstream metal. The album starts in great style with confident and ambitious instrumental Miasma which has progressive and symphonic leanings but this strangely ends abruptly and is followed by the title track which has a completely different feel and style to it. The songs that follow are definitely in a contemporary thrash/groove style and whilst having thrash based riffs none of the songs really kick into gear employing a steady pace and being reliant on the melodies and the verse chorus structure of the songs. This is definitely more aimed at modern Metallica, Machine Head and Trivium fans rather than Exodus and Sodom fan base. Whilst it is all played to perfection with some cool riffs dotted about the place this album didn’t do too much for me. My tastes are way too old school and this just leaned too far into mainstream metal territory to get a full appreciation from me. A great band for the kids but as an old fart I’ll slip back into the old school and the underground where I’m far more content. 5/10

The Old Dead Tree: The End (Season Of Mist) [Paul Hutchings]

This five-track release finally calls time of the band’s career, a final tribute to drummer Frédéric Guillemot, who took his life in 1999. Written before then, The Old Dead Tree had continued with Manuel Munoz (vocals, guitars) and Nicolas Chevrollier (guitars) following their creative approach with a mixture of progressive death and gothic metal combined with dark rock and alternating clean singing and death death growls. This final act is both classically impressive and truly melancholic. Drummer Raphael Antheaume and guest musicians Brice Guillon, bass and Pierre Le Pape on keys allow the band flesh out their tribute. Sorry opens the album with a haunting tone whilst Someone Should Know (The Truth) enables crushing riffs to blend with a delicate acoustic finish. Kids is a total change of direction, the rock/pop beats strangely different to the rest of the release. This final chapter ensures that all loose ends are tied. 7/10

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