Regular readers of the Angry Metal Guy’s mighty webpage will have noticed that I consider Sir Russell Allen (Symphony X, Star One, Avantasia) and Jorn Lande (Jorn, Masterplan, Avantasia, Ark) two of the very best metal vocalists in operation today. It was only last week I was ranting and raving about Allen’s performance on the new Star One opus and now I must rant anew, but what else can Steel Druhm do? Allen and Lande are both such enormously versatile and talented vocalists and it’s always a pleasure to hear them show off said talents. It should come as no surprise to anyone that I’ve gone hog wild over the previous Allen/Lande recordings where the two masters engaged in epic battles for metal pipes supremacy. Both their previous albums have become mainstays in my music rotation and hold up admirably to the repeated spins they receive. Now we are blessed with their third album The Showdown and the masters have once again delivered the goods and reaffirmed their place at the top of the metal vocalist food chain.
Picking up where The Battle and The Revenge left off, The Showdown gives you another twelve powerful but very melodic metal/hard rock songs designed to allow Allen and Lande to sing their balls off. Both turn in outstanding vocal performances on some very well written and memorable numbers penned once again by featured guitarist Magnus Karlsson of Primal Fear. Karlsson has outdone himself this time with his writing and these songs are real red meat for Allen and Lande to sink their teeth into. Like the previous Allen/Lande releases, The Showdown is not a super heavy metal album and is closer in sound to the Jorn albums, which means bluesy metal/rock with a penchant for big, catchy choruses. There are no really aggressive songs except the title track, yet all reek of quality and melodic metal perfection. Listen to tracks like “Turn All Into Gold,” “We Will Rise Again” and “Never Again” and try to find something to complain about, I dare you! All twelve tracks are well done, catchy, accessible and all show the range of Allen’s and Lande’s vocals as well as how moving their performances can be (“Copernicus,” “Judgment Day” and “The Guardian”).
This and the older Allen/Lande releases work so well because of the dynamic interplay and trade offs between the two voices. Both being able to adopt aÂ classic hard rock vocal style as well as an edgey metal style and both can switch gears effortlessly. Just when you think a song can’t get any better, Allen or Lande (or both) ups their game and takes it to a whole other level (check out “We Will Rise Again” when Lande comes in at 2:25 and his epic pronunciation of “darker” at 2:56). While the material on The Showdown doesn’t require either singer to hit their upper ranges much, they make up for it by giving each song exactly what it needs as far as power and at times, restraint. Magnus Karlsson’s guitar work is also excellent, tasteful and features some outstanding solos.
With something this good, there isn’t much else to say. Every song is a winner and Allen and Lande both put on their usual high level vocal clinic. Three albums into their collaboration and still nary a moment of weakness to be found. If you only listen to death or black metal, there won’t be anything here for you. However, if you appreciate excellent vocal work and more melodic metal music, you have to get this and the other Allen/Lande albums ASAP. You won’t be sorry. Hail to the kings.