|Musical Style: Melodic Power Metal||Produced By: Raphael Dafras & Germán Pascual|
|Record Label: Nightmare||Country Of Origin: Sweden|
|Year Released: 2012||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 85%|
|Running Time: 41:13|
What happens when you cross equal doses melodic metal and symphonic power metal with a vocalist from Sweden by way of Brazil? You get the multi-dimensional sounds of the fall of 2012 Nightmare Records debut solo release of Germán Pascual, A New Beginning.
Pascual, who was raised in Brazil but moved to Sweden with his family at an early age, got his start in music at 15 as a drummer in a thrash band but later found his calling as a vocalist with the progressive metal group Mind’s Eye on its 2008 debut The Afterglow. He went on to hit his stride, and garnered greater acclaim in the progress, from fronting the 2009 swansong effort of Narnia, Course Of A Generation, and the most recent Divinefire offering, Eye Of The Storm from 2011, in which he shared co-lead vocal duties with Christian Liljegren.
A New Beginning finds the artist walking a fine line between the best aspects of Narnia and Divinefire with its emphasis on melodic power metal tendencies (not unlike the former but heavier) and driving and more aggressive elements (hinting of the latter but with added touches of melody). The end result is soaring vocals, pristine vocal harmonies and abundant catchy melodies complemented by powering double bass, heavy set riffing and frenzied soloing.
A New Beginning opens to its six best tracks. With hooks of a near commercial capacity, “Seek The Truth” and “Misty Dreams” take a smooth melodic metal heading, while “Open Your Eyes” maintains the melodic penchant but with the more forthright and direct feel. “The Wrath Of God” and “If The Sky Would Fall”, aggressive but accessible each, dare to approach speed metal territory and “I Call For One” a darker and weightier bottom heavy sound.
The three that follow are also quite good; it would not be out of line to call them close seconds. The first two are mid-paced, with “Unbroken Wings” playing up keyboards and abundant backing vocals and “Come Ease The Pain” stauncher guitar flavorings and spirited drumming. “Fate Of The Blind” brings a lively tempo and nothing less a masterfully conceived chorus.
Closing things out is a melodic hard rock version of the Latin Nation Anthem, “Canción Con Todos”.
What stands out about the A New Beginning material is its accessibility. Almost commercial, its songs breathe of melody while oozing with every bit as much high energy emotion and impassioned underpinnings. It is a travesty FM radio is not open to music of this capacity because I can see several songs (most notably “If The Sky Would Fall”) dominating the airwaves if given fair opportunity.
Further enhancing the albums quality are Pascual’s wonderful vocal talents. Other reviewers have accurately listed Ronnie James Dio, Jorn Lande, Russell Allen, Rob Rock and David Coverdale as reference points, but I also feel that Michael Sweet and Lance King deserve mention. In terms of specifics, Pascual brings a pristine and smooth vocal style that allows him to reach for a high note with ease (and not overdo it in the process) but also add a hint of lower register grit. Another critic that suggested his vocals as being “graceful and at times emphatic” hit the nail on the head.
From a musicianship standpoint, A New Beginning almost comes across as an “all-star” project when factoring the guests appearances at hand: In addition to former and current band mates Carl Johan Grimmark (Narnia) and Jani Stefanovic (Divinefire), you will also find guitarists Martin Hall (Forged Wings) and Thomas “Plec” Johansson (Mean Streak) in addition to bassists Per Schelander (Pain Of Salvation) and Raphael Dafras (Seven Horizons) making appearances. The upshot being, obviously, that musicianship also represents a strong point.
Production (polished but not to a fault) and packaging (12 page mini booklet with lyrics and band photos) are done with quality in mind. Lyrics, composed by Pascual and Torbjorn Weinesjo (Veni Domine), also stand out in effectively conveying the artist’s faith in an intelligent manner.
Complaints are few and far between. I cold have done without the occasional extreme vocals. Even though relegated to the backdrop and not playing a dominant role, they can get in the way from sounding out of place in what amounts a melodic based environs. Also, the "Cancion Con Todos” cover is only above average to good at best. Why not include a ballad or song in the 7 to 8 minute range for variety instead.
While I hate to invite comparison, those into the melodic power metal scene - and by that I am thinking Rob Rock, Theocracy, ReinXeed and Essence Of Sorrow (remember them?) in addition to the previously referenced Narnia and Divinefire - will find a lot to like in A New Beginning. Further factor in Pascual’s stunning vocals and top notch songwriting and production and you are left with a strong album of the year candidate.
Track By Track
Starting to piano but soon to turn into a full blown rocker, “Seek The Truth” reinforces a platform of muscular guitars hinted with airy keyboards to establish a setting on the enticing side of things. Chorus hook will pull you in at once while the riff driven focus proves equally catchy. A perfect joining of symphonic and melodic metal would be the best way to describe things. Lyric snippet:
Are you prepared to seek the truth?
Or rather follow those blind rules
Are you prepared to seek the truth?
If not your future is lost and you will never get it back
You better not listen to the crowd
No money can buy the ticket to eternity
He will give it to your for free
It’s up to you to choose right or wrong
“The Wrath Of God” hits harder with its more aggressive tempo and punishing guitar walls: A churning low end can be found along with periodic extreme vocals. Contrastingly, when impetus settles down it is for a flowing but engaging chorus in which light vocal melodies play a defining role. Think Divinefire but with a touch more melody.
“If The Sky Would Fall” can best be described as a victorious metal anthem. This one jumps starts at once in frenetic fashion, blazing its way in approaching speed metal territory with its aggressive riff direction and driving mentality. An emotional element - this is where that victorious anthem element is played up - comes into play for an inspiring chorus in which the mercurial tempo is sustained. Lyric snippet:
You will lead me to the promised land
Like you led Moses through the desert land
It’s your choice to do me well
You don’t know how to fail
You will lead me home
From the ancient to eternal
From the birth to the grave
Your Word still stands
Even though the sky would fall
You will shelter us all
“Misty Dreams” sets a mid-paced clip in reinforcing a melodic metal based heading. Opening to eerie keyboards, the song charges and grinds its distance to staunch guitar riffs backed by technical drum underpinnings. Chorus is every bit as catchy as on those preceding it but taking the more forthright heading. Rounding things out are some falsettos from Pascual.
Non-stop double bass carried “Open Your Eyes” its distance, an unremitting slugger combining the best aspects of the heavier symphonic material and that taking a more melodic approach. Tempo might be furious and mentality resounding but putting things over the top is a luxurious chorus in which abundant backing vocals prevail. Lyric snippet:
Day by day I’ve lived my life
As a prisoner in my own cage
I wanted to wake up, to look much further
Than my eyes could reach
In the sky there are trillions of stars
But only one will keep us warm
It gives light
It gives life
It opened my eyes
“I Call For The One” rates with the albums most aggressive. What we have here is a deep and unfathomable piece, with some trending towards stauncher moments and others carried at a furious tempo. Similar to the previous five, melody stands out clear and pristine and certain to draw you in on first listen. Another heavy hitting piece to entice Divinefire fans.
A return to mid-paced territory can be found in “Unbroken Wings”. This one smoothly flows with periodic drum explosions, upholding a rich and polished chorus and more predominant backing vocals that have Stryper written all over them. The upshot is another solid example of melodic metal helping to round out quite the consistent album. Lyric snippet:
Please hear my voice through all the noise
Screaming voices in despair
I’m here to serve, to make Your will
Send an angel with unbroken wings
God give me strength to carry on
Show me the light to guide my way
I know that You’ll be there will me
“Come Ease The Pain” finds the artist at his heaviest. With militant riffs leading the way, the song finds the artist singing in a fitting lower register to match the more robust nature to the music here. Despite the heaviness, a listenable feel is not sacrificed as the trademark A New Beginning melody is allowed to shine.
“Fate Of The Blind” is the better of the final three (at least my opinion). This one upholds quite the decisive momentum with walls of razor edged guitars and spirited low end leading to what amounts a brazen and in your face tone. Chorus is expertly done with its curt and too the point feel while Grimmark’s soloing is of a similar high quality. Lyric snippet:
Look at your own world
Our glorious success is fuelled by death
The luck for death starts turning
The smoke will lead us up to one last breath
Tell me what you think
What will be the fall
What we found and what we will find
Fate of the blind
“Cancion Con Todos” gives rise to a melodic hard rock feel with its clean keyboard mix, although not forsaking guitars in the process. It must be noted vocals and lyrics are in Spanish (an English translation is not provided). Also, Pascual’s vocals prove perfectly suited for what amounts a differing musical direction- at least in comparison to the albums other material.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Seek The Truth” (5:08), “The Wrath Of God” (4:07), “If The Sky Would Fall” (3:37), “Misty Dreams” (5:21), “Open Your Eyes” (4:20), “I Call For The One” (4:19), “Unbroken Wings” (3:41), “Come Ease The Pain” (3:16), “Fate Of The Blind” (3:46), “Canción Con Todos” (3:33)
Germán Pascual - Lead Vocals
Martin Hall - Guitars
Guilherme Oliveira - Keyboards
Raphael Dafras - Bass
Carl Johan Grimmark - Guitars
Jani Stefanovic - Guitars
Thomas “Plec” Johansson - Guitars