Shadows

SKU: AFM479-0
Label:
AFM Records
Category:
Power Metal
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"What do you get when you take a rough and ready Germanic power metal band and add two members of Blind Guardian? You get a better rough and ready Germanic power metal band. Sinbreed is that band and features the talents of Blind Guardian guitarist Marcus Siepen and drummer Frederik Ehmke, which gives them some instant musical credibility and clout. Their 2009 debut When World’s Collide was a rock solid slab of slick, but angry metal in the vein of modern Accept, Herman Frank and Paragon and Shadows improves on that template with even more raspy, Udo-like vocals and thrashy guitar lines. These cats don’t go in for the frilly aspects of Euro-power and prefer to pummel and attack with aggression while maintaining enough melody to hook you in. That makes Shadows a feisty, ill-tempered collection of speedy riffs, catchy choruses, and pissed off attitude, and when power metal is done this well, it’s pretty hard to resist. Not revolutionary, but it sure satisfies that need for edgy power sans pirate shirt.

If you loved the last two Accept albums, songs like “Bleed” and “Call to Arms” will go down gangbusters. Lots of fast, in-your-face riffs and the excellently raspy roar of Herbie Langhans combine for some headbanging good times with all the Germanic flair you expect from acts like Grave Digger, but this is much better and more jacked up. It’s one speedster after another, each with a more than adequate chorus and ample nutsack. Sometimes they remind a bit of Steel Attack (title track), others times there’s a distinct Steel Prophet feel to the songs (“Leaving the Road”). Regardless of what influences they borrow from, they keep things straight-ahead, simple and rocking.

Tunes like “Reborn,” ”Black Death” and “London Moon” have simple, memorable refrains and manage to be catchy without dialing back on the aggression. Most songs ride along on simple, but heavy riff patterns and rely on Herbie’s vocals to do the heavy lifting, pausing only for some satisfying, if typical power metal solos. It’s a simple approach, but it works for them, though there isn’t much difference from song to song and things do start to bleed together a little on the album’s back-end.

Speaking of Herbie’s vocals, he’s a helluva good front man for this type of music. He has the raspy, gravely style down pat and reminds me a lot of new Accept singer Mark Tornillo. He has quite the powerful range and can hit all sorts of interesting notes when he so desires. He also has a bit of Bruce Dickinson’s flair and swagger hiding between his harsher approach (especially on “Standing Tall”) and it helps put the music over and make an impression. Marcus Siepen and Flo Laurin deliver the badass riffage required for this style and their solo work is pretty nifty (especially on “Broken Wings”). Nothing they do will make you fall out of a chair, but they manage to keep things moving for all ten songs and the album feels like it goes by quickly, which is a good thing.

A typical dose of Teutonic terror, but a very good one, Shadows blasts away with all barrels, stays very consistent and checks all the required boxes on Yea Olde Power Metal Checklist. These guys are one of my favorite bands of this ilk and between them, Accept and Herman Frank, I get all the Germanic rage I can handle at my advanced age. If you need more muscle in your power metal, these guys have the iron injection ready to go. Go heavy or go home." - Angry Metal Guy

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Finally, the circus-y melody towards the end of the song somehow becomes even more diabolic in this slightly stripped down version as Tord’s demented waltzy riff serves as a perfect backdrop for the drunken saxes. Speaking of Tord, it certainly is nice to see him back in the band, and I must add that his guitar playing and sense of emotion is perfect for the band and has improved over the years. This is perhaps most clearly demonstrated on “Jordrök,” a quintessential song in Änglagård’s catalog. 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  • "Death.Taxes.Ozric Tentacles.Since 1984 this loose collective have been releasing reliably great music from the mind of leader Ed Wynne. Their margin of error is enviably tiny – there is no such thing as a bad Ozrics album. Sure, some are better than others, but the body of work is as inescapably consistent as mortality and societal contributions. Technicians of the Sacred is their fifteenth studio album, second double album and the first release in this format since Erpland in 1990. It is also one of the best they have ever recorded.The blend of electronica and inner-space rock is instantly recognisable with ‘The High Pass’. World music and gently undulating synths take their time to ease us back into the required frame of cosmic consciousness. It takes almost 6 minutes for the secret weapon, Wynne’s signature lysergic lead guitar, to be deployed and that is the modus operandi of the whole album – nothing is rushed, each track unfolds lotus-like.‘Changa Masala’ distils all the band’s ingredients into a spicy side-dish. Sequencers, vocal samples and a reggae skank provide the base while acoustic guitar rips like a John McLaughlin solo, interjecting a nod to their past, a musical in-joke for the fans, which I won’t spoil for those who haven’t yet heard it.The Steve Hillage (Gong, System 7 and sometime Ozrics collaborator) influence is foregrounded in the first disc’s closer, ‘Switchback’. Tap-delay guitar slithers over a web of ambient keyboard washes. Portamento bass notes slide and glide their way through the patchouli-scented psychedelic haze.f the first disc was an aromatic treat, then the second is manna. ‘Epiphlioy’ recalls the classic ‘Saucers’. Its serpentine twelve-string acoustic riffs employ Eastern modes to evoke a scene that is paradoxically earthy and otherworldly. Staccato strings conjure Kashmir while a celestial orchestra of whooshing keyboard pads threatens to levitate us into the stratosphere and beyond. We are back in the bizarre bazaar, folks. Brandi Wynne pins down the ethereal mix with a heavy dub bassline. The track changes constantly. This is the most compositionally complex music the band has ever produced.While there are references to Ozric history and a more organic feel similar to early classics with the occasional use of non-electric instruments and ethnic voices, the album as a whole is a step forward. The painstakingly crafted symbiosis of synthesised sounds and rock instrumentation, coupled with a slick production, lend Technicians of the Sacred a holistic integrity not heard since Jurassic Shift (which incidentally entered the UK charts at a very respectable number 11 in 1993). The whole gels together and flows with the multi-layered sophistication of a symphony while retaining some of the jam-band aesthetic of the free festival days.‘Smiling Potion’ features interlocking sequences even Tangerine Dream would be proud of and a tribal metronome-sense beat straight out of Peter Gabriel’s soundtrack for The Last Temptation of Christ.As ‘Rubbing Shoulders With The Absolute’ throbs along on a blissed-out dub rhythm artificially generated voices ensure the weirdness meter is kept firmly in the red.Hungarian drummer Balázs Szende makes his first studio appearance and throughout the album he proves to be a superb addition to the group, whether approximating the tight programmed style of The Hidden Step era or, as on the closing track, ‘Zenlike Creature’, tackling elusive prog time signatures with ease and finesse. As Ed Wynne winds up a solo worthy of fusion maestros Mahavishnu Orchestra he introduces a shimmering Hillage-esque repeating motif that stays in the mind long after the music has stopped.Technicians of the Sacred, for all its dynamic shifts and intricacies, is a very chilled-out release, one for relaxing to and for transportation to the other, wherever that may be. There are no jarring wig-out rock guitar hero sections or all-out sonic attacks like ‘The Throbbe’. Rather this is Ozric Tentacles’ most cohesive and accomplished effort in almost 20 years and a highlight of a long and peerless career." - Echoes And Dust
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    $15.00