Symphorce

Brainstorm – Firesoul Review

Brainstorm – Firesoul Review

“Ever since hearing the Ivanhoe albums way back in the late 90s, I’ve been a huge fan of Andy B. Franck’s vocals. He has pipes that could only be destined for a life fronting a metal band, though he possesses the range to do virtually any kind of music. His slightly proggy, but hyper-accessible albums with Symphorce are always in rotation at Casa de la Druhm, as are his many releases with traditional metal act Brainstorm. The latter are especially tasty, blending Judas Priest‘s Painkiller era with the punch and crunch of American power metal like Iced Earth and Pantera, then layering in a plethora of earwormy vocal hooks and monumental, anthemic choruses that cannot be forgotten. Albums like Mentus Mortis, Soul Temptation and Liquid Monster are nearly perfect examples of pure heavy metal and whenever I spin them for someone unacquainted, they wonder how they could have missed the boat.” Intrigued yet?

Tad Morose – Revenant Review

Tad Morose – Revenant Review

“Whenever a beloved band implodes and goes into a ten-year hiatus, you’re more than justified in viewing a comeback with a jaundiced eye. After all, times change, people change, that “special something” a band had slowly fades away from lack of use. Basically, everything falls apart and the center cannot hold. Oh and hey, Tad Morose, the once great Swedish heavy metal act is back after a ten-year lay off. What a coincidence!” Follow along as Steel Druhm reviews Revenant and learns that nostalgia is a double-edged sword with poison ivy oil on the blade. Owwww, itchy slice, itchy slice!!!

Lanfear – This Harmonic Consonance Review

Lanfear – This Harmonic Consonance Review

Honesty in band promotion is about as common as happy, uplifting Finnish music. Despite this dire paucity, Lanfear keeps things refreshingly real. Their website bills them simply as “underrated metal” and I couldn’t agree more. These German prog-power champs have some impressive albums under their belts, but they aren’t as known or as appreciated as they should be. Herein, Steel Druhm dissects The Harmonic Consonance which is out worldwide now!

Brainstorm – On the Spur of the Moment Review

Brainstorm – On the Spur of the Moment Review

Reliability. That’s an endearing quality in a band. Its great knowing you can buy an album by a beloved band without trepidation because they deliver something of quality time and again. Germany’s traditional metal icons Brainstorm have been generating just that type of trust with fans ever since 2000’s Ambiguity. Since then its been album after album full of classy, powerful meat and potatoes metal, falling somewhere between Judas Priest, Metal Church and Pantera. No small part of their success is the vocal talent and songwriting acumen of front man Andy B. Franke. Whether recording with these guys or his more experimental unit Symphorce, the man has established himself as one of the premier metal vocalists out there today and he’s long exhibited an uncanny knack for writing winning choruses. As with classic albums like Metus Mortis and Soul Temptation, On the Spur of the Moment stays close to their tried-and-true formula of crunching guitars, tough but soaring vocals and hooks galore. while there are few surprises, it’s yet another solid outing by these scene vets and it’s a can’t miss for lovers of traditional heavy metal with grit and attitude.

Arch Enemy – Khaos Legions Review

Arch Enemy – Khaos Legions Review

Looks like the Amott brothers are back in town. That town being Gothenburg (as in the “Gothenburg style”) and their band is the long running Arch Enemy, purveyors of slick, polished, (and some would say soulless) melodic death. Khaos Legion is their eighth full length and the first since 2007’s Rise of the Tyrant (not counting their 2009 re-recording of material). I was a supporter during their early years but with the Wages of Sin album, things took a turn and never felt the same. Although I gave subsequent releases a spin or two, by and large I wasn’t interested in their overly clinical, sterile and generic brand of death metal for the unwashed masses. With this track record of vaguely condescending ambivalence, I approached Khaos Legions with low expectations and much to my surprise, this isn’t all that bad. It’s certainly going to raise some eyebrows though because its much more melodic, mellow and restrained. While there are a few “heavy” songs, this is almost like a power metal album at times (albeit with death vocals). While there’s nowhere near enough death here to satisfy most fans of that genre, the more family friendly approach results in some enjoyable, lightweight quasi-power metal that will amuse some (while royally pissing off many).

Symphorce – Unrestricted Review

Symphorce – Unrestricted Review

Ah, another release from metal vocal monster Andy B. Franck’s “other” band Symphorce. While most in the metal world are familiar with his work with Brainstorm, Symphorce is his more “cult” band where he explores musical styles and moods that wouldn’t fit with the straight ahead metal style of his primary outfit. Over the years Symphorce has released some albums that were actually superior to those of Brainstorm and I often wondered why they weren’t better known, especially since Mr. Franck is one of the better vocalists in metal today. Generally Symphorce hasn’t strayed too far from the style Brainstorm employs but they have tended to toss in more prog elements and try more diverse sounds (but much less so than his original band Ivanhoe). That pattern continues here on their seventh album Unrestricted. However, this is a slight step back in quality from previous Symphorce albums and feels a little rushed and incomplete. Fortunately, the shortcomings in songwriting are at least partially overcome by the vocal efforts of Mr. Franck.