Tuesday, February 12, 2002 @ 10:21 AM
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This Hamburg-based four-piece has made an astonishing career not only on the German power metal scene but also on an international level ever since the release of their first album Millenium Metal - Chapter 1 in 1999. Following this highly successful debut, they were voted Most Successful Newcomer by Media Control in Germany the same year. Millenium Metal was followed by a great successor, State Of Triumph - Chapter 2, and now the third studio album is on the shelves, Hero-Nation - Chapter 3. The eleven tracks on the album appear within a conceptual framework. The soul of the HERO Metalian, who is already familiar from the first two albums, undergoes several incarNATIONs of heroes and anti-heroes from many different countries. Got the pun? After the intro, he becomes El Cid (Spain, "Revenge Of Tizona"), the Roman Emperor Nero ("In The Name Of Blood"), Rasputin (Russia), Odin (Scandinavia, "Odin's Spell"), Jeanne d'Arc, Loreley (Germany, "Throne In The Sky"), Ulysses ("Odyssee, Greece), visits the Incas ("Fate Conquered The Power") and finally becomes Shakespeare's Romeo in "Infinite Love. The album finishes with the title track "Hero Nation.
So much for the story. Musically, this concept requires individuality and versatility of the songs and Metalium show such a variety of different styles and influences that the record pushes the boundaries of what is called power metal much further away. Speedy double-bass onslaughts, like in "Revenge Of Tizona, alternated with hymn-like vocal lines paired with killer grooves at mid-tempo ("In The Name Of Blood") and more balladesque songs with a good dash of prog elements ("Odin's Spell"), but whatever Metalium do, they do it with skill and energy. The album is marked by sophisticated riffing, enormous power, first-class playing, and an exceptional vocal performance by singer Henning Basse, not to forget the massive but crystal-clear production sound, which was once again in the hands of Lars Rath. The album is rounded off by the guest musicians, who are none other than former Uriah Heep organist Ken Hensley and ex-Rainbow, Ozzy and Whitesnake keyboard wizard Don Airey. A special mention goes out to "Infinite Love, an ambitious duet with the German five-octave soprano Carolin Fortenbacher, who has received the International Musical Award. This one is likely to send the coldest shivers down your spine. And finally, the record rocks and grooves like hell.
All in all, Hero-Nation is a fascinating album you won't get tired of listening to. It truly deserves the title masterpiece and is definitely worth the money.