Power metal and some damn fine voices to boot in this week’s collection of reviews.
Heavatar have their debut album out with the subtle title Opus 1- All My Nightmares, which is presumably going to part of a series. The sound can be best described as Metallica if they were a bit more symphonic. The band hail from Germany and certainly know their chops. Then again that is not surprising as this is Van Canto’s Stefan Schmidt’s “proper” metal band. As you would expect, he has invited a few of power metal finest along for the ride. Stefan’s vocal talents shine on songs like “Abracadabra”. There are some touches in the song that smack of Malmsteen during Rising Force days with classical music infusing itself in these songs as a break. There is really nothing not to like on this album.
Jorn is journeyman vocalist Jorn Lande’s “solo” band and they are back with the cracking new album Traveller. It is a buy for me for two huge reasons. First, the amazing Dio-esque “Cancer Demon”, which accurately sums up my attitude when I was fighting colon cancer. It should be adopted by the American Cancer Society as their bloody anthem. Almost moved me to tears the first time I heard it. And the other song that might get a few people choked up is Jorn’s moving tribute to Ronnie James Dio (who obviously heavily influenced him and the song) on the “The Man Who Was King.” There is very much a Dio/Rainbow vibe to this whole album not surprisingly. The rest of the album is pretty damn good and this will be in my top five for the year without a doubt. I would even say this album rivals Jorn’s epic Worldchanger as his best solo effort to date.
Masterplan have Novum Initium and this would be the best album this week if not for the release for their former lead singer Jorn above. At Vance singer Rick Altzi amply provides the vocals for Roland Grapow’s ex-Helloween power metal outfit. This lot have quite the track record with producing decent power metal goodness. This album is no exception and continues their excellent output. They do a nice line in catchy power metal crowd pleasers and “Keep Your Dream Alive” certainly serves that purpose on this release. It is a great track for Altzi to demonstrate his vocal capability. Masterplan always seem to avoid the problem of songs sounding too similar on their releases which plagues so many in this genre. The variety of pace and tempo between tracks helps.
Oliva is Jon Oliva of Savatage/Pain fame’s new solo band and their debut is called Raise the Curtain. There is no escaping that voice for sure and this continues his musical escapades. Tracks like “Soul Chaser” offer up some interesting Hammond organ interludes to break it up. The next track has some horns, so he seems to be really pushing the boat out musically. This album sees Oliva stepping out a bit from the constrains of his normal symphonic/power metal fare. At times the music is just plain old rock, like on songs like “Father Time” with its almost Doobie Brothers vibe. Hell, the bonus track “The Truth” is the mellowest thing I have heard from this guy, none of Oliva’s infamous scream anywhere to be found. No doubt Oliva’s fans will eat this up when it comes out and so they should.
Powerworld is about to drop Cybersteia and not surprisingly this is quite the power metal album. Michael Bormann of Jaded Heart fame is back with his colossal vocals on this one and it is quite the opus. Not surprisingly the theme is technical overload and some of the songs would serve well on a dystopian thriller soundtrack. Interestingly enough, but for some rough vocals inserted here and there this is not really that metal at all. Just merely heavy rock with power elements. The title track is quite the song and really brings it all together. Another highlight is “You Gotta Hold On” with its catchy chorus and almost Styx vibe. It has to be said, this release did take quite a few listens to really sink in but with a few tries it does work as a whole. Powerworld have certainly jacked into technical overload angst and managed to do it without needing to go to industrial.
Tellus Requiem have just released Invictus (The 11th Hour), yet another progressive power metal outing. While this does not expand the genre in any way, shape, or form and can be accused of treading water at bit, it is not all that lackluster. Songs like “Red Horizon” show shades of quality and brilliance, as well as the title track. Quite a few of the tracks here never really rise above decent or jump out at you as something special. It makes no lasting impression on the listener, decent though it is throughout. This Norwegian bunch really need to up their game a bit if they want to compete with the big boys. They need to work on the catchiness of their songs, as well as the quality of songwriting. There is certainly promise in this release but it lacks a certain something.
Well, that is it for this week. Stay safe and rocking out there.Powered by Sidelines