HardReviews 4
by Martin Popoff

John Arch - A Twist Of Fate
(Metal Blade)

Frustratingly between and EP and an album, A Twist Of Fate clocks in at two tracks (!) and 28 minutes. Whatever it is, the piece marks a rousing out of retirement for fabled Fates Warning vocalist John Arch, who is in amazing form, even if his mature voice has taken on an interesting, almost affected twang beyond that of his classic early albums. As well, Arch doesn't disappoint given his key talent: the crafting of almost scat-like vocal melodies, Arch reaching into rarified air over songs that court, shamelessly, traditional, very bombastic prog metal. And yes, finding logic, or personality, in all this takes some work, no surprise, given that the impromptu band is comprised of Jim Matheos, Joey Vera and Mike Portnoy, representing a mix of philosophies that isn't much of a mix at all. Still, with Arch's voice and his choices, and with the high quality of the many mellow bits, you come out the other end wishing more music could have been written.
Rating 7.5

Anvil - Still Going Strong

Missed this one when it came out last year, but man, it's well worth the (weight), Anvil turning in a raw album of ten more metal anthems (and anthems to metal) that seethe. OK, In Hell is a rip-off of Heep's Gypsy, but it works, and opener Race Against Time is a biting, scratching way to open up this street-heated record. Best part of Still Going Strong, aside from the album cover (good because it doesn't OD on colour), is the fact that the guitars of Lips and Ivan Hurd are pushed like back-arching, claw-arcing alley cats way to the front of the mix. It leaves Glenn Five's bass halfways to Lemmy and the drums of legend Robb Reiner, also stuffing full the middle. The new Anvil of the last few rapidly coming Anvil albums exhibits a sense of NWOBHM groove that was missing from the early years, a tough thing to pull off when the guitars cake the faces of ever song, as is the case here. Faves of the whole glorious shoot 'em up: Defiant and the title track, both of which slot in with the classic sound of everybody's two favourite Anvil albums (you know their names, now add this one to the collection...). See www.anvilmetal.tk for more info.
Rating 8

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