HardReviews 2
by Martin Popoff

Visions Of Pain (www.darkmirroronline.com)

This is a Des Moines indie that goes for the throat with a traditional heavy metal sound grindier than power metal, more like a New York Metal Mike Painmuseum vibe. The production is adequate, in fact more than that, but a bit strange, maybe turgid on the drum end, and a bit thin on guitars. Still, axeman Mark Andersen has loads of metal sense and a profusion of melodic yet mighty ideas in his bag of tricks. Alonso Donoso's vocals are a bit imprecise though, verging on out of tune, which, hell, if you even hint at that, it stands out and starts to distract. Plus he seems to have a bit of an accent, which is further reason he should have been mixed back a ways, or taken a few more takes. No, unfortunately, all told, this screams out demo, even though there are a number of salvageable songs here.
Rating 5

Unlocking The Past (Frontiers)

Issued in conjunction with The Gathering (a best of his past, some re-recorded, some remixed), Unlocking The Past is a covers album, some new, some previously issued, some intended for issue as bonus tracks and then not released. MSG's 'On And On' opens, and it's the worst of the lot, stiff and not strongly sung. But then things settle in for 'Fool For Your Loving', which of course is perfect for Norse vocal god Jorn Lande - amusingly so. 'Cold Sweat', 'Burn', 'Perfect Strangers', 'Kill The King'... these are classics built for Jorn's larger than life pipes, and the cool thing is that the various musos are up to the task of sending all of this over the top with chops and blinding production. 'Burn' in particular is a nutty tour de force, while 'Kill The King' is just ornery. Nicest choices come with the obscure 'Lonely Is The Word'/'Letters From Earth' medley - bloody first Dehumanizer cover I know of - and a pomp send-up of City Boy's 'The Day The Earth Caught Fire' which, granted, was on Jorn's debut, Starfire. Still, so weird hearing this Queen-like classic (although Lion's Share covered it too), and Jorn typically lathers it up with all sorts of keys and lightning fast drums and vocal layers... he is a dandy, isn't he?
Rating 7.5

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