Saturday, July 30, 2016

Farseer – Fall Before The Dawn

After around a decade of existence, Scotland’s Farseer recently unleashed their debut full-length, “Fall Before The Dawn”. This disc offers nearly an hour of well-executed power metal that shows plenty of incredible technical proficiency, among many other desirable traits. After a short intro, the band wastes little time before launching into “Luck of the Joker”, which is the prototypical high-speed power metal track to kick things off. It quickly becomes clear that Farseer is well versed in the ways of melodic guitars and soaring vocals, among many other common power metal traits. The record as a whole is reminiscent of a slightly less flashy version of Colorado’s Enceladus (though that might just be because of the similarities between the two bands’ singers).

Many other songs similarly display the attributes needed for good power metal. “Nightmares Collide”, for example, opens with a killer scream (and rest assured, there are more than a few high-pitched wails throughout this record). The closing song, the title track, unleashes an infectiously catchy “whoa-oh” section that will have you singing along instantly. Though the guitar playing is quite skillful all throughout the record, it shines most on a track like “Second Strike”, which features a more melodic solo near the end of the song. Farseer also isn’t afraid to get a bit heavier either. “Way of the World” opens with a super thrashy riff, and though it does have a bit of an interlude halfway through the song, it ultimately ends up being one of the more crushing tracks on this release.

There are a fair number of highlights on this record, as noted above. However, its fundamental flaw is the fact that the songs don’t have as much staying power as one would hope for from power metal. Perhaps it is the fact that I’ve been listening to excessive amounts of Avantasia recently, but there is a stark difference in the way these two bands approach choruses. While Farseer has some enjoyable melodies in their choruses, they always feel like an extension of the verses. There is no buildup to the chorus, and it doesn’t manage to be the climax of the song. Compare this with bands like Nightwish, Edguy, and the aforementioned Avantasia, where nearly every song builds into a giant chorus that sounds larger than life. Of course, power metal doesn’t need to be written this way; after all, these three cited bands are basically writing pop songs under the guise of power metal. But the point is still valid: this album is one long stream of consciousness. There is no major distinction between different sections of these songs (aside from the occasional interlude), and this makes the record feel more one-dimensional. 

Despite this criticism, “Fall Before The Dawn” is a very solid record. It certainly cannot be faulted anywhere in terms of execution, as both the production and individual performances on this record are stellar. This album displays a lot of potential for the band; if the songwriting were tightened up a bit it would be easy to imagine Farseer being ranked among the better power metal bands. For now, they’re still well worth listening to, and definitely worth following into the future!   

Be sure to check out and like Farseer on Facebook!

"Luck of the Joker"
"Nightmares Collide"
"To Play the Game"

Final Rating
3.75/5 or 75%. 

Written by Scott

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Disboskator – Terror in Dreamland

Terror In Dreamland” marks the debut release for Italian thrashers Disboskator. This sentence alone tells you much of what you need to know about this release, as Disboskator is very much in line with a lot of other Italian thrash bands. This means that “Terror In Dreamland” is overflowing with solid riffs, and usually charges along at a tempo that is sure to loosen up your neck.

One area where Disboskator does differ slightly from most of their contemporaries is that they have a much more organic production. There is no triggering here, as you can hear the kick drum occasionally getting louder or quieter depending upon how much force the band’s drummer is using. This effect isn’t noticeable, but it means that the EP feels a lot more in line with the thrash of old, where not everything was perfect. In a similar vein, some of the riffs are slightly on the technical side, and this leads to the occasional strange time signature that sounds a little off base. Nevertheless, this helps separate Disboskator from the crowd, as it resembles something Metallica might have done on “…And Justice For All”, for example.

This slight leaning towards more technical and progressive music means that the band can veer into mid-paced territory quite successfully. Whereas most thrash bands fail at writing compelling mid-paced riffs, Disboskator manages to create interesting melodic sections with notes ringing out to counteract more predictable chugging. This is most evident on “Looking For Immortality”, which takes the listener on a serious journey through numerous melody-infused moments, including a bluesy guitar solo.  

Perhaps put a bit more accurately, Disboskator plays thrash that doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but that also does have its own unique identifiers. It is quite clear that the band is well-studied in the ways of bands like Heathen, Coroner, or Paradox, but is able to combine this with the simplicity of more standard thrash groups like Testament or Exodus. This occurs on the opening of the title track, where some wicked galloping are mixed in with more dissonant intervals, combining the evil side of thrash with a slightly more technical element. The end result of this type of songwriting is a compelling EP that is sure to satisfy the cravings of the average thrasher!

Be sure to check out and like Disboskator on Facebook!

"Looking For Immortality"
"The Impossible New Era"

Final Rating
4.0/5 or 80%. 

Written by Scott

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Trick or Treat – Rabbits’ Hill Pt. 2

The magnificent vocal performance of Italy’s Alessandro Conti in Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody has brought much more attention to the singer’s other project: Trick or Treat. This band predates the new version of Rhapsody that Conti sings in, but has been largely silent (from a studio perspective) since he joined that band. Fortunately, however, Trick or Treat has returned in 2016 with a new studio album: “Rabbits’ Hill Pt. 2”. This release is an excellent, diverse offering of power metal that differs significantly from Conti’s other band. If the band’s name didn’t give it away, Helloween appears to be a primary influence on this record, particularly on songs like “Inle’ (The Black Rabbit of Death)” and “The Showdown”, where Conti’s voice takes after some of the classic vocal lines that Kiske unleashed in the 1980s. The band’s guitarists similarly offer up shredding licks and leads that rival the Weikath/Hansen combo at its best.

Despite that, however, there is much more to “Rabbits’ Hill Pt. 2” than just Helloween worship. One of the strangest tracks, “Together Again”, comes early on in the record. It isn’t quite an interlude, but it is a short, acoustic song. The track never truly gets heavy, and it does seem a tad strange to be the second song on the album due to how inanely happy it is, but somehow it works. Following this, there are plenty of prototypical power metal tracks (“Cloudrider”, “Efrafa”, and “The Great Escape”, which is a major speedster), each of which have their own unique identifying marks on them. The key reason why these songs are so effective is because of how compelling the vocal lines are. It doesn’t matter if Conti sings his heart out when the melodies are unmemorable (as was often a problem on the latest Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody record), but these songs are immensely catchy. “Cloudrider” in particular is a major highlight for power metal in 2016.

Before hearing this album for the first time, one of the primary selling points was the fact that there were 3 guest stars on the record. Unsurprisingly, the best of these 3 is Tony Kakko’s song, “United”. Put simply, this man is a vocal master, and he puts on a clinic on this track. His voice melds perfectly with Conti’s, and this makes you long for the days when Sonata Arctica was a more pure power metal band. The other two guest spots were disappointing. After listening to immense amounts of Primal Fear, I can’t help but feel that Ripper Owens is a poor man’s Ralf Scheepers. He has the same Rob Halford “scream your lungs out” sound, but he lacks the control and even the power of Scheepers. For that reason, “They Must Die” would be much improved with Conti doing all of the vocals. “Never Say Goodbye”, featuring Sara Squadrani, is essentially a pop song. Her performance is definitely better than Ripper’s, but again, Conti is so good that it would be better to either bring in someone that could rival him (like Kakko), or let him handle everything. With an hour-long album, this record would have been superior with these two tracks removed, or at least replaced by more typical Trick or Treat songs. 

Though this record does have a lengthy run time, it is a surprisingly quick hour. Whether it is the harsh vocals that invade the opening song, or the short, quirky instrumental “Beware The Train”, there is always something interesting happening on this record. Even the more traditional power metal songs have melodies that are distinctive. While there are a couple of flaws on this record, it stands out as being different in the power metal scene, and that is definitely a good thing. On the whole, “Rabbits’ Hill Pt. 2” is an impressive offering of power metal, and one that makes excellent use of the band’s talents, particularly Conti’s!

Be sure to check out and like Trick or Treat on Facebook!


Final Rating
4.3/5 or 86%. 

Written by Scott