Reviews Archive:

FALCONER - Falconer
FATES WARNING - Disconnected
FIFTH ANGEL - Fifth Angel (re-release)
FINAL XIT - True Nature

(Metal Blade)

Never heard of them? Naturally, it's a new band out of the viking MITHOTYN camp and I bet my ass that Mathias Blad, Stefan Weinerhall and Karten Larsson did the right thing to change the style! Nordic traditional Metal (if you ask what's that - hear these guys!), IRON MAIDEN-ish arrangements and most important - GREAT epic melodies in the WARLORD vein. If Heavy Metal transports emotion and power as FALCONER deliver it's the most beautiful thing on this fuckin' planet. I heard this awesome piece of Metal about twenty times now and every time I discover some new aspects in their medieval Metal mix. This is not light-weight, this is not keyboard soft Metal, this is the real stuff. A dynamic production, a wonderful cover painting and 10 pieces of captivating European Metal make FALCONER along with RAWHEAD REXX and PARAGON the winner of this issue in European traditional Metal for me. FALCONER - a name to book mark and an absolute fave to my book. Essential.
Heinz Konzett

(Metal Blade US/ Massacre Europe)

I've been a long time devotee to FATES WARNING- as their output should be required listening to any progressive metal lover. While the 80's albums with John Arch frequent my stereo more often (be it home or car) I do love "No Exit" and didn't mind the streamlined approach of the lighter "Parallels". It's been tough going since- and "Disconnected" doesn't elevate my hopes for most that are looking for adventurous metal. All of these songs feature an industrial laden, mechanically cold approach (especially in terms of Jim Matheos' guitar tone) and often end on droning parts that make me reach to eject the CD quickly (see if you can make it through the final 3 minutes of "Disconnected Part 2" without screaming at the incessant guitar bend). Ray Alder still has the pipes of a vocal god and explores his lower range to divine versatility on "So"- while drummer Mark Zonder continues to float as the off time drum signature king- fluid and managing not to overplay. The 16 minute plus "Still Remains" continues Jim Math eos' epic composition tendency- beginning with ethereal /spacey keyboards tones transposed over clean guitar and effect overlap vocals and traversing "2112" moments throughout. I guess FATES WARNING has every right to explore new terrain- I just wish they would create more musically and rely less on technology to accomplish this mission.
Matt Coe

Fifth Angel (re-release)
(Shrapnel Records - Japan Import)

At last, one of the best melodic Metal albums of all time is re-released on cd. You have the album already on vinyl? Then choose yourself if you want to buy it on cd as well. You don't know them? Well, get this gem immediately otherwise you miss some of the best Metal music ever written, ever performed, ever existing. In 1986 only few people appreciated the great traditional riffing of James Byrd, the original drumming of Ken Mary and the classic clear and powerful voice of Ted Pilot. Maybe the band was too heavy for the glam scene, not heavy enough for the Speed and Thrash scene and the label didn't succeed in reaching the big DIO fan base, so they disbanded frustrated after releasing the (little more commercial) second record "Time Will Tell". The Brilliant nine songs, beginning from the fast-paced "In The Fallout" to the epic "Cry Out The Fools", all of them outstanding, punching melodic Metal, supported by one the best works of producer Terry Date, made this output a very special piece of music. Essential , eternal.
Heinz Konzett

True Nature

Down in the lone star state we're seeing a new caliber of Metal bands willing to explore the realms of Power/Progressive Metal with varying degrees of conviction. FINAL XIT is a quintet from Houston releasing this 5 song ep of semi-technical Progressive Metal with an air of melodic Power about its style. To develop further, the band try to keep a few hooks in terms of the vocal melodies or overall musical arrangements but consistently deliver unconventional drum tempos, guitar harmonies or free thinking bass parts, easily illustrated in songs like opener "Mask Of Mine" and the lengthier "Sooner Or Later". Maybe if I had to categorize Final Xit I'd compare them to a darker Queensryche, as the riffing and vocals of R.Bryan Westbrook have a mysterious, biting edge compared to the norm of lighter Progressive outfits. The production isn't as clear as expected from most bands of this ilk, favoring t he rhythm section over the guitars - and I believe the vocals need more punch in the higher ranges. Minor complaints aside, FINAL XIT have given the public an adequate debut, leaving listeners and myself expecting more in the near future. Contact: Final Xit/ c/o Melodic Productions/ PO Box 751835/ Houston,TX/ 77275-1835/ USA. Email:
Matt Coe

My God
(Metal Blade)

After the letdown called "Unnatural Section" in 1999, I was excited to hear rumors that the new FLOTSAM album should sound like their classics "No Place For Disgrace" and "Doomsday For Deceiver". It does not. I also liked the mid-tempo based "High" and "Drift" works quite a lot as Eric A.K was one of my top five favorite singer in the Speed/Thrash Metal genre. I love his powerful timbre and FLOTSAM AND JETSAM are still one of the most energetic live bands on the whole planet. Coming to "My God" - it's a diverse album with some excellent stuff as "Nothing To Say" or the Thrasher "Frustrate" but also some un-typical VOI VOD meets strange Metal (....) kind of song-writing. I would not call it modern Metal as on the last failure but it's still far away from their heydays. "My God" is not an easy-listening album, the dynamic from quiet parts to aggro stuff makes it quite bulky. If you await a classic Speed Metal album, you will be again disappointed, although it's a non-compromising album and I can't help it, my heart is still with FLOTSAM AND JETSAM- they were a part of my youth, you know.
Heinz Konzett