Hard Reviews 3
by Martin Popoff

Human Fortress - Lord Of Earth & Heaven Heir

Damn, something mildly happiness-inducing here. Got three SPV power metal albums at once, quite liked two of them, only Burning Point sounding unremarkable and paint by numbers. The best was the Midnight Sun, but these guys are a worthy, rich listening experience as well, not to mention a freaky looking bunch of rag-taggers. This debut, notable for being the first output of Victory's Tommy Newton as producer and studio-owner, has three things going for it: a collection of dated keyboard tones, unbridled storyteller's pomp and most importantly, exotic vocal melodies and underlying musical accompaniment thereof, best example being opener 'The Dragons Lair'. This all translates into a valid bit of power metal escapism with the mystique of say, a Jacob's Dream. Where too many bands try to straddle earth and sky, these guys most definitely think they are grand, and in many ways, they are.
Rating 8

Deride - Scars Of Time
(The Music Cartel)

Certainly one of the brightest recordings on The Music Cartel, as well as one of the grooviest drum performances, Scars Of Time is the genre-splicing debut from a Norwegian band that is like a simpler, big hanging power chord version of Fear Factory, most notably in terms of the death/melodic vocal dichotomy. No nu-metal though for these boys (well, maybe three of these riffs are modern and "circular"), Deride choosing moreso dabblings in Pantera, Meshuggah, prog, even the stripped stoner vibe of their label's other bands. Hard to describe, which is a good sign in this case, Deride showing up with a deck of vicious riffs somehow laid bare and discernable by that square, crystalline recording. A fresh, intelligent approach, sort of just to the left of the nu stuff, sent pure by the recurring Entombed-ness of it all. Note: out since June but worthy of a revisit.
Rating 7.5

Hard Reviews Page 4