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Heavy Metal Wakes the Beast

Straight up heavy metal from Estonia. When you think of total heavy metal, this is probably the kind of stuff you think of. It's not too fast, not too slow, not too heavy, not too technical… it's just straight metal with basic chord progressions and riffs, a few dual guitar runs, throaty singing that sometimes shrieks up into the higher registers, etc. Now, unfortunately I can't say that it's extraordinarily good, because it's not, but it's alright, and I can definitely appreciate their dedication to true metal. Aside from the fact that the songwriting just isn't that energetic in my opinion, the songs also run too long - almost all five to six minutes, and there's not enough movement or variation to keep things interesting. I'm not into the way the vocalist randomly squeals those high notes, either. His singing isn't that hot as it is, it's just not that emphatic (nor does he hit all of his notes), but those squeals are a little out there… The tapping leads and faster riffs that open "Hounds on My Trail" are great, the track is sadly only held back by a strained vocal performance that just doesn't cut it. The writing is great in this track, however. I wish some of the other songss were written in that manner. Recording-wise the vocals are mixed a little up front and there's room for cleaning up the instrumentation. It sounds okay, if the songs were good I'd look past it, but the drums can be rigid, the bass lacks depth, and the guitars just need more crunch and fluidity to their distortion. I can't say I care for the layout because it's cluttered with text and collaged black and white band photos that really just aren't very good, and the cover art is goofy. I can understand there's some humor involved because the band is really championing classic heavy metal, but I'm just not into certain aspects of how they've done it. Aside from a few over the top metal tracks the lyrics are a bit more serious, though still nothing that really does much for me. There's the Judas Priest-esque "Hell Brigade", the violent "Battalion Berserk", etc. This is one of those bands that just needs a lot of practice to get better as writers and performers. "Hounds on My Trail" is a really promising piece of work, but this EP is sort of weak. Oh well…



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