There are a lot of good bands down there in South America and they always seem to pop up out of nowhere and surprise you. Brazil’s Hibria did just that with their 2004 Defying the Rules debut, which rocked a type of heavy power metal quite similar to Riot‘s Thundersteel mixed with classic Euro-power like old Helloween. It was surprisingly mature and polished for a debut and had a number of great songs that earned permanent playlist rotation. Their Skull Collectors follow-up was solid enough, but I didn’t think much of the Blind Ride platter released in 2011. I feared they were in the classic Diminishing Returns Death Spiral [Angry Metal Guy's Law of Diminishing Recordings™. Get it right. — AMG] and hoped they could find a way back to the glory of that awesome debut. Silent Revenge doesn’t totally arrest the spinning, but it gets some much-needed air under their wings again and shows them writing much more consistent, memorable tunes. While the Riot similarities are there, these days their power metal attack reminds me more of acts like Steelwing and Split Heaven and accordingly, the album is full of energetic, fast-paced power metal with feet in both the American and European styles.
I admit to be being a bit concerned when the title track hit with very heavy “modern sounding” guitars akin to Darkane and Mercenary. Fortunately, my fear abated as the song is typical Hibria; full of wild guitar-play, Benhur Lima’s plucky, in-your-face bass and Iuri Sanson’s big, air-raidy vocals. It has energy aplenty, a memorable chorus which Sanson sells very well and some harsh vox mixed in for added power. Other winners include “Deadly Vengeance” which takes you back to the debut’s winning style; “Silence Will Make you Suffer” with its interesting rhythm structures and huge vocals and “Shall I keep on Burning” which is a surprisingly solid power ballad. Almost as good is “The Scream of an Angel” which reminds me a lot of Lost Horizon (where the fuck is Danel Heinman anyway? That dude could sing the smug douchiness off of Geoff Tate… probably).
Less successful, but hardly terrible are tunes like “Lonely Fight” which is a bit too generic and “Walking to Death” which has some quality music, but a bad chorus. The remainder fall in the good or very good camp.
I’ve always been a fan of Sanson’s voice and though he isn’t original or innovative, his vocals are good enough to impress anyway. He has that wailing, emotional style that old school power metal bands like Viper and Agent Steel made famous and he can channel Mr. Heinman at times, which is really saying something. He has good tone and a lot of power and though he isn’t one for nuance, it isn’t required for this material. Guitar-wise, Abel Camargo and new slinger Renato Osorio bring the thunder with loads of speedy riffing and overdone, stadium-sized solos and their over-the-top style is what makes the band enjoyable. Though I worried at first that they were turning toward a quasi-metalcore sound, I do appreciate that they keep the guitars fairly heavy and big sounding, which is something way too many power weenies forget. Most of the time their riffing sounds like something off a thrash album and it generates a lot of oomph. When you add in Lima’s very present, busy bass playing, you get a full, heavy and satisfying sound.
While the band always had musical chops, it seemed as if the songwriting was getting a bit more stale with each outing. While this is nowhere near the awesomeness of the debut, it’s definitely a step above Blind Ride, which had too many songs that didn’t stick. However, they are somewhat cursed by the high-quality of their debut and the three albums since have failed to equal or rival it. That must be annoying as hell.
If you’re a fan of catchy power metal with more power than most of the pirate-shirted Euro units, Hibria may be just what you need. Obviously, I’d recommend you start with Defying the Rules since it’s the bomb, but this is well worth checking out as well.