HardReviews 3
by Martin Popoff

Avantasia - The Metal Opera Pt. II
(Century Media)

Despite the fact that we've all been over-soused to the gills with power metal, Edguy's Tobias Sammet has found, through his Metal Opera project band, a way to hold the interest of jaded ears. The main ace is of course this idea of using an army of vocalists, many distinct, some quite clichˇ, each committed to polished enunciation like a diction school, most recalling the many facets of Bruce Dickinson. Adding to the sensory deluge is the composite effect of the songs, again, some clichˇ (Chalice Of Agony, Neverland: yawn), others grinding, aggressive and groovy (Memory, The Looking Glass, The Final Sacrifice), others plush and Queen-like (Onto The Unknown, In Quest For... nice English, dude). Recording values are perfect and unexciting, of no issue or consequence, and the eventual sentiment once the record becomes sediment, is one of dynamic, Sammet trying a bunch of different stuff, which I guess falls out of the license afforded by the opera concept.
Rating 7

Rotting Christ - Genesis
(Century Media)

Unleashing upon mine ears with one of the most blood-curdling and inventively layered and arranged intros I've ever heard, Rotting Christ signal with precise, detached confidence that the onslaughting 51 minutes of musicianly music is going to roil and roll remarkably indeed. Nothing will unseat Dark Tranquillity's Damage Done for me with respect to record of the year accolades, but this perches proudly around a distant second or third, Genesis clashing extreme and intellectual wits with Immortal's Sons Of Northern Darkness. Evoking various foreign characteristics slanting and slighting through the likes of Vader, Vintersorg, Zyklon and Moonspell and then filtering it through finicky, artsy constructs reminiscent of the groovy bits of Old Man's Child and Borknagar, Rotting Christ have built a cathedral of epic anthems here, most notable of which is the churning madness of Nightmare, which finds Sakis in Daemonarch/Moonspell mode over a rocky road riff until the chorus, where shafts of metal light stab through the clouds like vengeful heavenly firestorms. Elsewhere, the Greeks trip us out lock-step like In Extremo, providing smart symphonic touches buttressed by recurringly accessible riffs and incessant but seductive chants, even if the blastbeat bits sound like anybody else's clean, keyboardy blasted bits. All told though, very effective and oddly, more of everything all the time... more keyboards, more production, more groove, more lyrical venom, more brains, more magic metal moments, all wrapped in the accumulated knowledge of experience and complex, dynamic identity.
Rating 9

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