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Old Man's Child - In Defiance Of Existence
Woah, what a difference a spell with Dimmu (the Concorde of black metal) can cause, Galder turning in a clean, hi-fi black metal sculpture that makes material as recent as '00's Revelation 666 sound like old school Viking-era Bathory in comparison. The synths and samples are not nearly as cheesy and screechy, the drums, now courtesy of Dimmu bandmate Nick Barker, quickly clear and clearly fast, and the overall sound picture, lush as Fredrik Nordstrom is wont to do. Down to a trio (Old Man's standby Jardar is still around), Galder and whoever are one of the few bands left from the second wave still trying to perfect that second wave sound, writing true progressive rock to and from hell, coming up with surprising stops (almost drop-outs), twists and arrangements o'er which Galder's unpleasant bark (the death metal tonality Mikael from Opeth made work). S'funny, but even though the ambition and scope of a Dimmu is here, folks will always see this as an intimate project, basically testament to what can be conceived and recorded in close quarters, isolation and loneliness the norm more than money-burning rock 'n' roll camaraderie. Someone check the record books: is this the most drum whacks ever on a rock 'n' roll album?
Mattsson - Power Games
The prolific Lars Eric Mattsson is back with another intimate record distinguished by a few good characteristics and one very bad (more on that later). First the good: Lars is indeed old school, so when he writes power metal, it has a distinct '80s joie d' experimentation. He's almost a prog guy with power chords, except when it comes to soloing, which is another pleasant trait of the man Mike Varney tapped for great things in '85. In this fresh spirit, Lars also layers in keyboards of an almost '70s German prog rock nature. They work because there's a timeless mystery to these melodies. As well, Lars has brought on Balance Of Power's Lance King to sing the album, a very good choice, given King's exotic prowess and rock starry self-importance a la LaBrie. The bad? This album's got a horrid drum sound, to bad demo standards. A guy is credited but not pictured. Methinks it's a machine, and if not, it's certainly a performance meant to sound like one, a crappy one. I can't get completely around or over it, despite liking everything else about the album. In effect, this is where the man's traditional, retro instincts need an overhauling update.
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