I’ve done my good deed for the day. I thought it would be an idea to give some free music to this sleepy French village. Today I chose the second album from Finnish metal band Masquerage, Moonlight Time. I think the villagers appreciated it.
Well, I most definitely did as I was in the mood for some good solid hard rock. Masquerage was formed in 1998 by singer/guitarist Kimmo Peramaki. He first came to notice with Athmosfear and Celesty. In fact there is strong vein of impressive metal pedigree that runs through the entire band.
Originally called Unchained the band changed their name to Masquerage when bass player Mikael Kontolampi joined. They went about recording four demos and slowly began to play gigs outside Finland. The current line up was completed in 2004 when ex-Confusion guitarist Jukka Viitasaari joined.
Their first album Work-Holic-Fool saw light of day two years later. Whilst delving deeply into their primary influences such as Iron Maiden, and Helloween, Masquerage also added their individual experience and started to create their own identity.
Listening to their self produced follow-up Moonlight Time, it is obvious that the ‘difficult’ second album syndrome hasn’t even occurred to this band. It is assured, brimmed full of confidence, and certainly represents a solid step towards further progress. Singer Kimmo is excellent throughout whilst the two guitars hammer out riff after riff of hard rocking intent.
“We Will Never Learn” leads in with a gentle acoustic before those two guitars blast in. This is a strong opening to an album that instantly demands your attention. From there it doesn’t so much as flicker or fade at any point within its nine tracks. It is as solid as those power chords themselves.
The title track highlights the fact that this is a band built on rock solid foundations. Mikael Kontolampi’s bass and Marko Yla-Hakkinen’s drumming are both of impressively high quality. A splash of colour is added with some understated keys from Mika Maunus.
“I Don’t Believe In You” caught me in the headlights and is a strong stand-out track. The pace of “Doctor’s Orders” is relentless before the opening of “Retired Monster” picks you back up off the floor.
“The Helpers” boasts some exceptional bass playing and another superb vocal performance. “Better Liar” comes at you like a train above a melodic line that is by now becoming a familiar trademark of the band.
“Silver Wings” is right up there with the best of the album’s tracks. This is melodic metal all done with an impressive confidence and power. There is so much going on, smooth fretwork, power chords, and melodic hooks.
The album ends with “Everlasting Good Luck”. It’s track nine on an album that has flown by and leaves you hanging by your fingernails wanting more.
Excellent artwork completes the package. Quite why this band remain unsigned is beyond me. Moonlight Time is highly impressive stuff indeed.