Thoten - Beyond The Tomorrow
Thoten are a well-regarded power metal band from Brazil, as well as buddies of Angra, with Angra guitarist Kiko Loureiro producing this fresh, interesting album. Thoten are a case of exotic, non-metal nation flavouring helping a band, versus hindering or making no difference at all. The sound is quite hard to describe, maybe like your most obscure conceptions of old Priest, crossed with hard '80s prog metal, arranged elegantly and deftly and agedly like Deep Purple. Everything is very clean, most noticeably the myriad of keyboard tones, and the melodies are first rate, very fresh, very memorable. I mean, damn, we all trot out Dream Theater's name as a prog metal comparative, but for once, here's a band that goes to that oddball place, Thoten capturing the thespian attack of heavy Labrie, vocalist Renato Tribuzy being an amazing talent, incredibly never cheesy despite his half dozen or so stylistic presentations. Picture Vanden Plas tightened and metalized with various past-due-date elements from 1985 Shrapnel and Metal Blade bands (Arch-era Fates Warning with small songs and big budgets?) and you're somewhat in Thoten's headspace.
Insomnium - In The Halls Of Waiting
For those who lament the simplification of Sentenced, look no further than plucky Finnish upstarts Insomnium to save the day for frosty, gritty, fog-shrouded doom. Like Amorphis, Insomnium have taken inspiration from old Finnish poetry, which is fine by me, given the artful Maiden metal slam their gruff pronouncements are set to. Fact is, this is stirring groovy, riff-mad melodic metal like the very, very cream of the Sentenced experience, somewhat similar to In Flames but a little dirtier and even somewhat proggier. A welcome change of pace, in a genre where too many bands are playing too fast (The Crown), or just generally, re-exploring too deeply the hoary German roots of thrash.
Hard Reviews Page 5