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TRANCE Metal Forces

By Rob McNees, Vinyl Aficionado
Wednesday, August 4, 2021 @ 6:32 AM

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Metal Forces

Metalapolis Records

I'm very fortunate in that I get to choose the bands and albums I review. (Thanx Boss!) Although I probably should do more new bands, I find that reviewing bands I already have a long history with makes them much more enjoyable for me. And if you're one of my 2 fans, I really appreciate you sticking with me. I know I have often spoken of the artful process of discovering bands in the 70's and 80's. And that really was a magical time. No internet, just tape fanzines, compilation albums and tape trading. (See The Heavy Metal Store online for more on this nostalgia trip.) And of course Vinyl hunting! When you saw a new band that you had never heard of, pouring over the cover, looking at the logo, checking out song titles, what kind of instruments they played (Flying V's a major plus!) and seeing what bands got name dropped in the thanks & cheers list. That's how I stumbled across Germany's metal merchants TRANCE. 1983's Power Infusion was the album. Flying V's, check. Killer song titles, check. So I threw down my hard earned cash (I was already gainfully employed by then) and away we went. I was not disappointed in the least! Heavy metal played with conviction and class, with heaviness, melody and even some speed to kick you square in the arse in the finest Teutonic tradition of the legendary SCORPIONS and ACCEPT!

The history of TRANCE goes back to 1977 where they were first called AGE, before changing their name to TRANCE in 1979. The very rare "Hard Way to Go" 7" (which I'm chuffed to say I found a few years ago) was the first offering in 1981, followed by the debut full length Break Out which hit the shelves in 1982. By Power Infusion the band was making quite the name for themselves in the Metal underground, and they charged full steam ahead. By 1985 they had released Victory after taking a couple of years off but then slowly the wheels started to come off as the shift in music to that god awful hair rock crap was looming over the horizon. Throw in legal and personal troubles and a name change to TRANCEMISSION in 1989 and things weren't so rosey anymore. By 1991 TRANCE was back (name and all) but the band had fractured and split into 2 camps (the aforementioned TRANCEMISSION). A few more CD's came out ('91's Rockers, '93's Boulevard of Broken Dreams, '94's Shock Power and '96's Die Hard) before the band took a long hiatus, releasing several compilations of their back catalog. In 2017 however they came roaring back with The Loser Strikes Back and it seems the fire was relit, which brings us to this year's release, Metal Forces.

As I've said in my countless reviews of older bands still playing, there's always a captain steering the ship through the good and bad seas still preserving the precious legacy of their baby. In this case, we have 2 captains: guitarist Marcus Berger and bassist Thomas Klein. Joining them in the fray are guitarist Eddie St. James, vocalist Nick Holleman and producer, record label/promoter and ex-MANILLA ROAD drummer extraordinaire Andreas 'Neudi' Neuderth. As I've not heard any TRANCE music since the glorious early days, I was very interested to hear what TRANCE 2021 sounded like.

The first thing that hits me like a punch in the face is the production. A very strong analog sound with a real (not Pro-Tools or some other digital recreation) drum sound and very upfront guitars definitely has perked my ears. "The Fighter" starts things off as a fine uptempo song that is a perfect way to open any album. The second thing that strikes me is the vocals of Nick. A one time singer for California's VICIOUS RUMORS, he has a great range and dynamic pipes. But therein lies something for me to deal with. One of the things I loved about the original TRANCE was the vocals of ex-guitarist Lothar Antoni. A raspy voice, think Udo Dirkscheider with a better range and that should get you close. Bearing that in mind, it will take a little getting used to for this scribe. Second track "Troublemaker" is a mid-tempo track with faint keyboards in the background. A memorable chorus and a fine wailing guitar solo to boot. "Death Machine" is a slow burner with a metallic groove and some atmospheric keys during the solo. "Deep Dance" is next and speaking of dance has a middle-eastern vibe and an almost 80's dance feel to it. An interesting track to say the least. "Believers" brings it back Metal again with a fist pumper that should have most heads bangin'. The intro "The Horns of Jericho" about the weird sounds people heard and in the atmosphere a year or two ago leads into "As Long As I Live" which has a early 2000's HELLOWEEN type vibe to it. "The Drums of Waterloo" is an atmospheric intro that leads into the title track "Metal Forces", another mid-tempo jam with some tasty lead work which leads into the longest track on the album, the 6 minute and change "Ballad For A Group" and the name says it all. TRANCE has always had a ballad or two on the albums that I own so this is nothing new to me. But don't let that lull you into a false sense of security, as the band kicks it in the arse with various tempo changes and complex arrangements that even remind me of new era IRON MAIDEN in a couple of spots. A quality track to be sure! Album ender and bonus track "Unstoppable" has that Old-Skool TRANCE chugging rhythm that brings things back full circle I think. A fine way to end things indeed.

If you've never heard TRANCE and like a little variation and style with your Metal, then I urge you to give them a shot. Not a paint by the numbers album, a grower that might have you hearing a new little nuance with each play. Prost!

And for my Vinyl fam out there, this is supposed to have Wax out at some point, but it's not currently in my collection. So keep your eyes peeled.

3.5 Out Of 5.0 Skulls

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