HardReviews 3
by Martin Popoff

(Metal Revelation)

Revelations is a long odds 'n' sods EP from this Portuguese progressive metal band with roots back to 2000. Bad production continues to plague these guys, more so considering that part of the reason for putting this out was to improve on past botch jobs. Song-wise, notably, opener 'Doppelganger' hails from the band's last album (here remixed), '09's Innergy, and closing epic 'Betrayed' links up two disparate parts from long back into a 15 minute piece indicative of the band's weirdly raw Dream Theater vibe, especially out of vocalist Nio Nunes who sounds "full of wonder" like James. Nothing hugely innovative to this band... yet, although they are squarely prog metal and not prog, despite the mealy presence of thin keys (see 'Phenotype'), which would not be missed had they been quietly deleted from the mix.
Rating 5

Climbing A Could: A Tribute To Max Webster
(Fan Thumb/Unijuve)

Pretty funny, obviously, that this even exists, and even more so that it's not Canadian. Lemme back up - Mick and Pete are a couple of buddies from the UK that get to Ontario every once in a while, fortunately for them, 'cos that allows them to track down various Max Webster members and pepper them with questions. Turns out they're old layovers from the NWOBHM and then got it in their head to start a Max Webster tribute band, this 37-minute nine tracker (eight Max covers, no Kim, plus one original) being the result. On the pure merit of tribute albums and the rapidly growing high standard over the years after countless of these, you'd have to say this comes off as underwhelming, for two reasons: 1) the production is quite midrangey, lacking both bottom end to the bass drum and much tingle from the cymbals; and 2) the arrangements and playing of these songs are by the book, no wrinkly little decisions made anywhere, rather a direct re-telling. Add both of those together, and, coming right 'round, this sounds like a NWOBHM tribute to Max Webster that one could imagine emerging on Guardian Records or on Phoenix (OK, this ain't as raw as Holocaust, but it's in that spirit). Granted, the guys had quite a challenge on their hands, given that the production on the Max albums is among the highest standards anyone ever attained in the '70s (which also means, like, ever). Killer choice of songs though, with all manner of obscurity like 'Check', 'Blue River Liquor Shine', 'Coming Off The Moon' and even 'Distressed' getting the nod. And the original is a smart, canny fit, '(Higher Than The Moon) Caught In The Web' sounding very much like a Max song, evoking a vibe like the debut album crossed with the rarities from Diamonds Diamonds.
Rating 6.5

Hard Reviews Page 4