Therion - Deggial
Therion mastermind Christofer Johnsson has spent the second half of his ten year career thus far merging the worlds of metal and classical in an uncompromising fashion that has taken the band far from other genres that propose the idea, such as power metal or prog or the slapdash duct-tapings of Yngwie and Metallica. Deggial is the man's boldest move yet, Johnsson assempbling a team of 27 musicians to pull it off, this time including brass and woodwinds in the mix, along with his signature strings and operatics. Also new is the '80s metal accessibility of the riffs, Johnsson going for a clean-burning throwback to his core faves (Accept, Scorpions and Maiden), for mid-metal grooves and wide-open spaces. The synthesis of the two disciplines is highly musical, as usual quite creepy and Wagnerian, moreso given the various esoteric disciplines addressed, the core concept being ancient Arabic beliefs about the coming of an anti-messiah called Deggial, who will replace the gods with man, a sort of Nietzchean message which runs through a lot of Therion's lyrics. The key to this unique band: the metal and the classical are fully integrated, written and built simultaneously, resulting in true headbanging classical music without gaudy seams. Note: look for Hansi from Blind Guardian guest vocalizing on 'Flesh Of The Gods', featuring one of the most elegant and stirring metal metal breaks in years, plus a cover of Carl Orff's 'O Fortuna'.
U.P. - Absorbed
Nice buzz on for this top-flight US metal act. And it's cool to see the computer graphic green theme running through their stuff. Anyway, Unleashed Power are still the nation's best unsigned act, gnashing teeth down this carnal but accessible metal path which is like the record Jugulator should have been. Absorbed is sadly only a five-track EP, but it's a cool indication of where power metal should be going. Guitars like mountains, vocals that tear you to shreds, and grooves that are sophisticated and oddly tempo'd make every track pound with surprises. It really is their own sound, a little Annihilator, a little Bay area thrash, all sheened and gleamed with this palpable star quality, again, like it's Priest or Geezer updating. See firstname.lastname@example.org or www.verdictent.com to get this mutha on its way over to your home.
Hard Reviews Page 5