|Musical Style: Melodic Power Metal||Produced By: Black Fate|
|Record Label: Ulterium||Country Of Origin: Greece|
|Year Released: 2014||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 11||Rating: 80%|
|Running Time: 50:30|
When not dreaming of moving out of mom’s basement, it’s about über-talented melodic power metal bands with virtuoso guitar players and near unlimited range vocalists that soar with the best of them. Columbus, Ohio based Magnitude 9 fits the bill, particularly its 2004 third album Decoding The Soul, as does Rob Rock’s solo material, which found him joining forces with guitarist Roy Z. on Rage of Creation (2000), Eyes of Eternity (2003), Holy Hell (2005) and Garden Of Chaos (2007). Several bands from Sweden also deserve note, including Harmony and its albums Dreaming Awake (2003), Chapter II: Aftermath (2008) and Theatre of Redemption (2014) in addition to Narnia (the groups 2006 release Enter The Gate comes to mind) and Incrave (its 2008 album Dead End is highly regarded). Brazil’s Shining Star stands out equally from its partnership between guitarist Fabio Rocha and front man Lance King on its acclaimed 2005 album Enter Eternity.
Every bit notable within the melodic power metal scene is Larissa, Greece based Black Fate. A group that can trace its history to nineties demo releases Black Fate and A Piece Of Dream that featured founding member and drummer Nikos Tsintzilonis, Black Fate put out its third demo in 2000 (also self-titled) followed by its full-length debut Uncover two years later. Tsintzilonis proceeded to join forces with vocalist Vasilis Georgiou for the Black Fate sophomore album Deliverance Of Soul from 2009 prior to recruiting bassist Vasilis Liakos and guitarist Gus Drax (Biomechanical, Sunburst). Later signing a deal with Sweden’s Ulterium Records, Black Fate entered the studio to begin work on its third full-length album from the fall of 2014 in Between Visions & Lies.
So what constitutes melodic power metal? According to my ears, it starts with a melodic vocal performance (noting the talented front men of the groups referenced above) that complements the accessible musical environs at hand. Melody plays a key role in this aspect, with songwriting placing the greater emphasis on ample hooks and catchy choruses in comparison to some segments within the power metal genre (a certain eighties influence comes to the forefront in the process). Where melodic power metal breaks from the tradition of its melodic metal counterpart is its focus on a heavier guitar sound (rooted in the power metal aesthetic) and more forthright rhythm section (in which double bass can play a defining role). Tying the melodic and heavier elements together are lighter touches of keyboards.
That accessibility reveals itself on Between Visions & Lies opening track Rhyme Of The False Orchestra”. The song proves one of the albums more immediately recognizable, with its near commercial melody (almost radio friendly) and accenting hints of symphonic keyboards. The trademark heavy hitting drum work of Tsintzilonis provides a muscular touch. Also highlighted are the distinct vocal qualities of Georgiou, who sings in a lower register (at least in comparison to some within the power metal arena) with a perfectly smooth deep and resonant delivery with an almost baritone feel. Credit the group for not going the high-pitched operatic route (as happens all too often within the genre) and lending some uniqueness to its sound in the process.
Also engaging is “Lines In The Sand”, a rousing and furious momentum driven monster with the galloping riffs to match but that can also temper things for a catchy chorus in which impetus decelerates to a near crawl. The song also allows Drax to stand out, who tears it up on the fret board with an extended run of his lightning fast playing. If anything, he is one of the more exciting guitarists to have hit the scene in recent years, reminding somewhat of Carl Johan Grimmark (Narnia, Empire 21) but with the flair of Markus Sigfriddson (Harmony, Darkwater).
Maintaining the forward initiative is “Perfect Crime”, an up-tempo barnburner that stomps and storms its length to keyed-up riff action and nothing less full on aggression. A bass guitar solo gives way to more incensed lead guitar. “Into The Night” opens its first minute to a tranquil joining of stilly done guitars and haunting violin. At moments notice the song forcefully kicks in and powers ahead with the great emphasis, as striking guitars align with Georgiou’s emotional vocal performance (the sublime refrain finds him particularly stretching). Instrumentally, this one reflects some classical touches as grand keyboards lead the way).
From a mid-paced standpoint, “The Game Of Illusion” takes a profound and resounding stance with its prodigious low-end bass emphasis and somber and shadowy elements throughout. An almost Gothic tincture exudes itself correspondingly. “In Your Eyes” comes across heavy hitting with its digging and biting mentality (only picking up impetus for its mirthfully flowing chorus) in reflecting the same darker qualities, while “Call Of The Wild” even things out for a European slant in playing up anthem like guitars and airy keyboards. Ballad “Without Saying A Word” proves majestically done, with violin and classical guitars trading off with perfectly placed vocal melodies and periodic incisive rhythm guitars.
An understated progressiveness also imbues the Black Fate songwriting. “State Of Conformity” plays up its share of technical elements, as choppy guitar riffs and a groove basis trade off with periodic quietly done passages and others that hit with an almost thrash like force. Likewise, “Weight Of The World” is unpredictable. A hard charging (almost speed metal laced) introduction gives way to bass heavy verses in which guitars drop from the mix. Guitars return for a sweeping chorus that transitions back to more moments of a frenetic nature. Drax continues to impress as his riveting lead guitar highlights either song.
Production comes across full and lush in allowing all instrumentation to stand out. Give credit to Erik Tordsson for his work with mastering. Packaging also shines with eye-catching cover art in addition to a professionally done mini booklet.
While Black Fate falls within the positive metal category, an element of faith impresses from its lyrics, as can be found on “Rhyme Of The False Orchestra”:
We’re rising again from the ashes
Love is our guide through the haze
Hold my hand,
Lead me to innocence
Hypocrisy drowns my soul
Love is the only way
“Line In The Sand” makes even the stronger statement:
Visions of another place
I've washed my sins away
A new day has come
Night and day
I seek a chance for redemption
My path for heaven lies ahead
As does “In Your Eyes”:
There is something in your heart
Like a shining star you came and saved me
From the dark tonight
You wipe away the sorrow from me
It feels like I am reborn
Calling your name
“State Of Conformity” sums things up succinctly:
A pale light
The essence of our faith
Carved in our hearts
A splendor in the dark
This is maybe
This is maybe our hope
Between Visions & Lines adds up to a strong melodic power metal release. The Black Fate talent stands out accordingly, with Drax representing one of the up and coming shredders to have recently hit the scene, while Georgiou provides solid support (and nice change of pace) with his lower register vocal presence. Good consistency and variety to songwriting lends to the appeal of an album that comes recommended for this into any type of metal with melody as its basis.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Rhyme Of A False Orchestra” (5:00), “Lines In The Sand” (5:01), “The Game Of Illusion” (3:59), “Into The Night” (5:06), “In Your Eyes” (4:08), “Call Of The Wild” (4:40), “State Of Conformity” (4:42), “Without Saying A Word” (4:25), “Perfect Crime” (5:25), “Weight Of The World” (5:20), “In Fear” (2:44)
Vasilis Georgiou - Lead Vocals
Gus Drax - Guitars
Vasilis Liakos - Bass
Nikos Tsintzilonis - Drums