Mister Kite - Box Of Fear
Breaking many of the prog metal rules and coming up a winner is Sweden's Mister Kite. I dunno, this record pulls you in, whether it's because of the molten guitar sound and many slow and low-down chordings, the forceful hair band vocals of Alf Wemmenling, the stunning drum production, or the anthemic melodies. All of this vista-wide excellence can be heard on 'How Long', a track with a gorgeous chorus counterpointed by judicious pummeling, plus the Soundgarden-meets-Vanden Plas of 'I Know You Know'. And the band never stop creating new arranged possibilities, adding guitar tones, adding vocal inflections from the world of post-grunge alternative metal, wrapping all this stomping abundance, like I say, in crushing production values of the utmost fidelity. The Quill, Jorn Lande, Further Lo... there are many ways to look at this, many bands that come to mind, although the sound is indeed all their own very rhythmic celebration.
Seventh Key - The Raging Fire
Seventh Key play standard yet uplifting old style hair metal with the prog flourishes of a House Of Lords or White Lion or Saga, no surprise given the presence of Mike Slamer on guitar. But Seventh Key (this is the second album) is very much the domain of bassist/vocalist Billy Greer from Kansas, both guys having played together in the under-rated Streets project. Greer's voice is quite similar to Steve Walsh's, possessing that same ability to replenish the listener's soul, but the resulting album is conservative and predictable, given the age and gray roots of these guys. What you get is Streets and drift-era Kansas heavied and brightened, many late '80s conventions re-presented.
Astral Doors - Of The Sun And The Father
From a label most known for Spanish power metal comes a pretty funny Scandinavian Dio clone. Vocalist Patrik Johansson tries way too hard to enunciate like Ronnie, coming off exaggerated, yet with a voice as good but at a higher register. His backing band plays all the Dio styles as well, but the production is really wet and organic, making for an enjoyable, well-executed if laughably derivative spread.
Hard Reviews Page 5