|Musical Style: Melodic Power Metal||Produced By: Tommy ReinXeed|
|Record Label: Liljegren||Country Of Origin: Sweden|
|Year Released: 2012||Artist Website: ReinXeed|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 75%|
|Running Time: 51:52|
Sweden’s ReinXeed remains one of the more productive bands within the power metal scene, having released five full length albums in as many years. The group made significant musical steps and strides over its first three - The Light (2008), Higher (2009) and Majestic (2010) - prior to coming into its own on the fourth, 1912 (2011). What set 1912 apart is how it (as described in the 85% Angelic Warlord review) “takes things to the next level in terms of songwriting, performance and production” while (featuring) “perhaps the strongest collection of songs ever from ReinXeed” and “standout melodies that almost come across Theocracy-like in capacity”.
Welcome To The Theater, the fifth ReinXeed album from the spring of 2012, maintains the group’s penchant for bombastic melodic power metal fused with elements of the epic and symphonic. Enticed by non-stop double bass, mercurial riffs, shredding lead guitar, instrumental excursions galore and high end vocals? Then you will not be disappointed in ReinXeed!
Helping to define Welcome To The Theater is the manner in which it uses cinematic keyboards and orchestral overtures. Which is not surprising considering that Welcome To The Theater stays true to its namesake as a concept album revolving around movie soundtrack themes. In terms of specifics, each song is about a movie while incorporating musical references and lyrical hints from the film in question. No, I will not provide a spoiler mentioning specific movies covered but they are of the blockbuster action variety (think Jurassic Park, The Patriot, Spider Man, etc).
The stronger Welcome To The Theater material showcases the same quality that made 1912 such a standout release. Repeated play reveals Welcome To The Theater to feature six songs that both rank with the groups best and successfully capturing the feel of Hollywood at the same time.
Long term fans know that ReinXeed can set a relentless tempo and such is the case with speed metal romps “Life Will Find A Way” (impelled by front to back galloping riffs) and “Somewhere In Time” (with its non-stop impetus and double bass). What stands out about the two is how they do not sacrifice melody for the speed therein. The same can be said for “Follow Me” (taking a classic melodic metal based approach) and “Freedom” (with its enticing progressiveness).
When ReinXeed slows the pace - at least somewhat! – it maintains the same caliber of songwriting. Best exemplifying this are mid-paced pieces “Stranger Tides” (as a result of its brilliant baritone refrain) and “No Fate” (almost playing up a medieval touch).
The quality, unfortunately, drops off with the albums remaining material. “Save Us”, featuring a vocal trade off between founding member Tommy ReinXeed and Frida Viberg, falls a bit flat (aside to the weakness of the chorus, female vocals do not seem to fit the ReinXeed sound). Likewise, “Temple Of The Crystal Skulls” and “Welcome To The Theater” are lacking- at least to my ears. The problem revolves around how the two almost come across “forced” in their attempt to adhere to the albums cinematic soundtrack approach.
Tommy ReinXeed continues to bring his trademark pristine and pure high end vocal style. One cannot help but appreciate how he can go for a falsetto-like high note without overdoing it in the process. This type of maturity allows for comparison to contemporaries such as Lance King, Ski (Faith Factor) and Eli Prinsen (The Sacrificed, Sacred Warrior).
He also forms a top shelf guitar team with Calle Sunderg. I do not know who handles what solo on which song but the results are impressive in lending an overall neo-classical vibe. Plenty of blazing leads licks and chops make their presence felt along with harmonies and melodies in abundance- as can be found throughout the albums numerous instrumental excursions.
Production is on the same level of 1912 with its near perfect joining of refined keyboards and rhythm guitar in just the right amount.
When at the top of its game, ReinXeed ranks alongside anyone in the melodic power metal genre (note the previous Theocracy reference). The problem, however, is that Welcome To The Theater, similar to 1912, is somewhat inconsistent. My review of 1912 noted how the group might be overextending itself in the productivity department with the end result a filler track or song on the average side of things slipping through the cracks. And such is the case here. Consider that songwriting Tommy ReinXeed has come up with 54 songs in just five years- and that does not account for his work in his other band Golden Resurrection.
So perhaps a much needed break or change of pace is in order. Hence, I close with the same advise to the group offered in the 1912 review: And that is to “wait several years before putting out the next ReinXeed album in order to give yourself the time to come up with 10 to 11 great songs (in the same manner that Theocracy did between Mirror Of Souls and As The World Bleeds).” I know that ReinXeed has a great album in the 90% to 95% range in them- let’s hope they take the time to come up with enough quality material to reach said goal.
Track By Track
Cinematic instrumental opener “Welcome” gives way to “Life Will Find A Way”, a trademark ReinXeed anthem characterized by galloping riffs galore, radiant soloing and mercurial impetus approaching speed metal territory. Frenetic double bass steps forward and underscores what amounts an over the top chorus. Lyric snippet:
This park has surely brought back history to life again
Spared no expense, this park will be opened up for you
We always thought that we were highest of the animals
But now we run away before we end up dead
Now you’ll find our history is not what you have been told
Where not far away from the promised land
But where we go life will find a way
“Follow Me” maintains the speed metal lacings but with more of a melodic metal based edge. The upshot is a song that comes across palatial in capacity, with instrumental moments highlighting some neo-classical overtones and ornate chorus maintaining the frenzied tempo.
ReinXeed loses me somewhat with “Save Us”. The song gets off to a typical strong start with cinematic keyboards and orchestration prior to launching into the mercurial riff that upholds its verses. Chorus, however, slows to a standstill with female vocals playing a lead role. The abrupt changeover almost comes in the form of a rude interruption as things fall flat. Perhaps ReinXeed is not a band that lends itself to female vocals in that it does not work either way (at least not for me). Lyric snippet:
Follow the cold shiver down your spine
A spider’s crawling on your neck, he bites you down
The end of one thing is a start of something new
When the web is shown your powers grow
Storm rogue, a Cyclops, an old wolverine
Enter into one amazing fighting team
Some have the power to control our minds
It’s their destiny, their legacy
Back to prime ReinXeed with “Stranger Tides”. The song slows the tempo - at least in comparison to what came before - but still sets quite the purposeful clip, smoothly cruising its verses to a resounding low end only to pick up pace for its masterful baritone infused chorus. ReinXeed is at the top of its game here!
Abundant energy all the way, “Somewhere In Time” plays up incessant double bass and lightning-like riffs to put in place a scene on the ballistic side of things. But it is not all angst in that profound vocal harmonies step forward to back the songs melody driven chorus (one of the albums finest). This one would do Theocracy proud! Lyric snippet:
I must save my friend from the past
Go against the time, make it fast
So through our future and history
Somewhere in time I will find where you are
There’s no returning from where I’ll go now
History’s changing again
“Time’s not against you”
Old ancient stories and changes
Here in the western land
What we have in “Freedom” is another all out ripper. The song introduces some progressive aspects, reflected in its tasteful twists and turns that range from cinematic keyboards at its opening to raging guitar riff emphasis and baritone vocal arrangements (particularly for its climatic chorus). An extended instrumental romp runs the gamut from quieter overtones to neo-classical harmonies and soloing. Helping add to the depth here is guest co-lead vocalist Calle Sundberg, who sounds somewhat similar to Michael Sweet.
“No Fate” represents another example of choice ReinXeed songwriting abilities. Trending towards the mid-tempo, the song proves enchanting with its abundant keyboards and equally unambiguous guitars but is put over the top by nothing less a masterful chorus (almost medieval flavored with its classical overtures). Listen to this several times and you will be hooked. Lyric snippet:
Into the night, fire at will, never surrender
If you wanna live on (We’ll never die…)
Stay in the light, kill or be killed
Fire is burning and victory’s near
But only today, it’s our judgement day!
We have been fighting a long time
We’re outnumbered by the machines
We have a strength that can never be measured
Out in the war we must go
“Temple Of The Crystal Skulls” is a step behind the better material here. As previously stated, the song comes across contrived in its attempt to adhere to the albums theatrical concept. Yes, it maintains the group’s trademark energy and speed but the deciding factor is the overly cinematic chorus.
The same can be said for “Welcome To The Theater” either way. Again, too much of a theatrical emphasis is placed here - the groove-swing-piano moments come across cheesy - while the chorus again failed to grab me. I would have much preferring a couple of melody based ReinXeed speed metal tracks instead. Lyric snippet:
Welcome to the theater we’ll show you to your seat
Look into the screen and you will see a Star Wars
Against the Avatar inside the Matrix failed
When the twilight goes away
Stay alive when you go up inside the cube
Terminate all public enemies
Walking down a green mile when the warriors become
The men in black and that’s not all that you will see!
Track Listing: “Welcome” (1:12), “Life Will Find A Way” (5:37), “Follow Me” (3:52), “Save Us” (5:56), “Stranger Tides” (5:30), “Somewhere In Time” (6:16), “Freedom” (8:13), “No Fate” (6:50), “Temple Of The Crystal Skulls” (4:35), “Welcome To The Theater” (3:46)
Tommy ReinXeed - Lead Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards & Orchestration
Calle Sundberg - Guitars & Vocals
Nic Steel - Bass
Alfred Fridhagen - Drums
PelleK - Lead Vocals
Ronny Hemlin - Lead Vocals
Frida Viberg - Lead Vocals
Jack Stroem - Guitars
Kim Arvidsson - Guitars