HardReviews 4
by Martin Popoff

Winter's Bane - Redivivus
(DCA Recordings)

Winter's Bane is the band from which Ripper Owens rose, Ripper featuring on the band's classic '93 album Heart Of A Killer but not follow-up Girth, on which leader/guitarist Lou St. Paul sung. Now back with a traditional and thespian Dickinson-like power metal vocalist in Alexander Koch, the band has adjusted as well, revisiting the dark, considerably heavy but still technical and old school power sound of the debut. In fact, Redivivus sort of stews in the cauldron also containing Iced Earth, Eidolon, Beyond Fear, Nevermore, Evergrey... maybe even Crimson Glory, Cage and Meliah Rage. Lou's guitar sound is pulverizing yet classicist, and famed drummer Mark Cross (Metalium, Helloween) puts on a groovy but detailed clinic, even if his bass and snare drum sounds are a bit clacky. A swirling, rhythmic, grimly pure and dramatic metal experience is had, even if there's a noisy looseness to this thing that sort of works and doesn't.
Rating 7.5

Korpiklaani - Tales Along This Road

First off, I've played this album more than any o'er the last two weeks - that's seven points outta ten right there. Second, I love it. I recall getting infected by the Finntroll bug for a spell, but this oompa metal classic takes the keg - I mean, I dare you to play opener Happy Little Boozer and not want to play it again, while cracking that first beer of the day, no matter what the hour. It polkas along and then pow! - the chorus hits and it's heavier and (in my imagination) faster, with nothing but that title refrain hollered by Vikings over and over until all are happy. The accordion all over and the fiddle is a blast, the production killer and hi-fi, and the songs sequenced for maximum enjoyment, despite a bit of Finnish mixed in with the hoary English. Velocities are all about energy, but grooves break out like a pit. Korpiklaani is a stirring, singalongjohns, late in the party highlight, but then Rise breaks the pattern, offering, after a typically Skyclad intro piece, an exquisite Accept-meets-'Symphony Of Destruction' metal cruncher. Somehow, throughout, Korpiklaani build an austere Northern cool like Immortal, despite this record just being really, really funny - figure that one out. Knocked a bit off because it's all arranged sorta the same, and the oompa beat permeates most of it, but man, this is a beer-bonged blast.
Rating 8.5

Hard Reviews Page 5