|Musical Style: Progressive Melodic Metal||Produced By: Lionel Hicks|
|Record Label: Nightmare||Country Of Origin: UK|
|Year Released: 2001||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 9||Rating: 90%|
|Running Time: 52:47|
The UK based power/progressive metal band Balance Of Power came together in the mid-nineties before releasing its full length debut When The World Falls Down in 1997. Subsequently acquiring a new lead vocalist in Lance King from the USA, the band recorded its sophomore effort Book Of Secrets in 1998 prior to following up with Ten More Tales Of Grand Illusion a year later. On its fourth full length release, appropriately entitled Perfect Balance, Balance Of Power takes a foundation of double bass driven power metal and infuses it with elements of catchy melodic metal and sweeping progressive metal. The end result is by far the bands strongest effort to date.
Lance King proves one of the finest vocalists in the power/progressive metal genre in contributing a classic tenor voice with abundant power, range and dynamics. Pete Southern and Bill Yates form a strong guitar team in which the two combine for a solid rhythm guitar sound and an abundance of technical lead guitar work. Drummer Bill Yates literally buries the album in super tight double bass, while Tony Ritchie remains a steady presence on bass.
Perfect Balance showcases an immaculate production job highlighting just the right amount of polish. A more than adequate amount of rhythm guitar underscores a mix of crystal clear lead guitar and punchy bass lines. The album, at the same time, features perhaps the finest drum sound this reviewer has heard. (What else would you expect from a project produced by the bands drummer!)
The progressive metal of "Higher Than The Sun" opens to sweeping synthesizers that give way to an aggressively delivered riff underscored by pounding double bass. Slowing at the start of its first verse, the song picks up in pace upon attaining an anthem-like chorus carried at a good upbeat tempo. An edgy rhythm guitar opens an instrumental section featuring a tastefully done lead guitar and keyboard trade off. I like how the lyrics to "Higher Than The Sun" present a choice to its listeners:
This won't take too long, I'm not so far away
Before I am gone, you'll know me inside and outside
I am here to change your world in every way
Which way do you fall, Lightside or darkside?
Higher than the sun
Above the clouds that hide reality away
I'll take you there, I'll take you there
The strings and piano at the end of "Higher Than The Sun" segues perfectly to the piano that drives the introduction to "Shelter Me". At just the moment you expect the song to be a power ballad, however, a metal flavored guitar riff kicks in and pushed it forward in a heavy and driving fashion. The piano returns just before "Shelter Me" reaches a chorus with a huge commercial flavored hook. Thirty seconds of blazing lead guitar work brings out the best in a song talking about being sheltered from the storms of life:
My eyes are red
Ultimately everybody's eyes are read, so...
Shelter me, the cold wind of illusion crying
Shelter me, keep me warm, oh
Shelter me, the underside of evil's coming
Shelter me, from it all
"Fire Dance" begins to several seconds of tight sounding rhythm guitar harmony before it tapers off at the start of its first verse. Slowing to a near crawl for a quietly played guitar line, the song picks back up in pace and advances on a non-stop hook filled chorus that comes across almost mesmerizing in feel. The guitar solo opening a sweeping instrumental passage starts slowly only to end in a fast paced manner.
Commencing to a blend of rhythm guitar and keyboards, "One Voice" quickly moves ahead only to gain further momentum for an infectious pop flavored chorus ending to Yates' rapid double bass. Rhythm guitar harmony opens an instrumental passage culminating in a lead guitar and keyboard trade off and a wonderful extended guitar solo bolstered by more double bass.
"The Pleasure Room" stands out as the most blues influenced track on Perfect Balance. Following an eerie female voice stating "What's your pleasure, no one needs to know", a piano carries the song ahead until a blues flavored riff enters the mix in time to open its first verse. The rhythm guitar briefly fades from the mix only to return as "The Pleasure Room" picks up in pace and moves on to its slowly moving chorus.
The upbeat "Killer Or The Cure" takes off to several seconds of rhythm guitar harmony that fades away at the start of its first verse. As the song gains impetus, the rhythm guitar returns to its place of prominence and leads the way to a catchy chorus backed by a touch of vocal harmonies. A combination of rhythm guitar and pounding drums opens an instrumental passage ending to an energetic guitar solo.
"House Of Cain" progresses to a blend of rhythm guitar and keyboards underscored by vocal harmonies before slowing for its first verse. Picking back up in pace during the second, "House Of Cain" smoothly flows to a good groove flavored chorus. A bluesy guitar solo helps drive a brief instrumental section, while a mix of lead guitar and double bass carries the song over its last minute.
"Hard Life" gets underway to a quietly played guitar line before a pounding riff takes over and drives it forward in an anthemic but hard hitting manner. After a touch of vocal harmonies accentuates vibrant atmosphere, "Hard Life" culminates for a sweeping chorus that talks about leaving the past behind:
The river flows to wash away a hard life
A cool, cool breeze can empty out your soul
Another sunset comes to calm a hard life
So kiss your past goodbye and let it go
Double bass kicks in as the song transitions to an instrumental passage highlighted by a fiery guitar solo.
"Searching For The Truth" is the albums shortest but fastest track. Opening at breakneck speed to a combination of rhythm and lead guitar, "Searching For The Truth" slows slightly for its first verse before regaining its momentum for a strong energy-laden chorus. A tasteful lead guitar and keyboard trade off proves the high point to the final song on Perfect Balance.
In this reviewers opinion Perfect Balance stands out as the strongest of the three Balance Of Power albums in which Lance King handled lead vocal duties. The production is without flaw. The musicianship top notch throughout. The songwriting first rate. It would be difficult to give an album a higher recommendation.
I find it disappointing that Perfect Balance was the bands last work to feature Lance King on lead vocals. King departed Balance Of Power in early 2003 and went on to contribute the lead vocals to Defyance's Transitional Forms before joining Pyramaze and recording the bands debut Melancholy Beast.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: "Higher Than The Sun" (7:02), "Shelter Me" (5:17), "Fire Dance" (6:50), "One Voice" (5:23), "The Pleasure Room" (6:03), "Killer Or The Cure" (5:37), "House Of Cain" (5:06), "Hard Life" (6:35), "Searching For The Truth" (4:46)
Lance King – Lead Vocals
Pete Southern – Guitars
Bill Yates – Guitars
Tony Ritchie – Bass
Lionel Hicks – Drums
Leon Lawson - Keyboards