Victory - Instinct
It's a three-way sweet spot indeed that Victory sits in, this band of moderately successful second stringers bridging classic traditional metal with hair metal and the modern touches of trad found within power metal. The resultant brew swaggers with thick guitar tones, steely, modern yet moving grooves and above all, the smooth blues croon of classic Victory vocalist Charlie Huhn, an American who has fronted Humble Pie and Foghat, but is most known for his stint with Ted Nugent for the second half of Ted's classic era. Bolstering the guitar end of things, you've got ex-Accepter Herman Frank and production wizard Tommy Newton - Victory is where he made his name. Hard to pin exactly, but it's definitely a hearty welcome back, Victory sounding like Scorpions crossed with AC/DC, thick up with explosive sounds and a chemistry that is lively and palpable.
Moonspell - The Antidote
Maintaining their reputation as artists above category, Moonspell create an album that contains yet eludes comparison to their sprawling, panoramic body of work. Suffice to say that The Antidote is a record of high relief, offering crunching, sinister chords jarred by modern gloomy passages that recall the Paradise Lost albums of recent years. Two prominent characteristic occur however, one being the warm, thick, high volume rhythm section of Mike Gaspar's often tribal drums and the front-in-mix guest bass work of Amorphis' Niclas Etelavuori, two being Ribeiro's array of vocal personalities, especially his oft-used and very intimate and resonant David Sylvian croon. These idiosyncrasies manage to add dimension to songs that are melodic, complexly dark and almost Anathema-like in their measured use of riff. And even if a pointed analysis finds major bouncing around between all forms of gothic music - every new wave variety and every metal variety - Moonspell's reputation, as well as the band's distinct performances, causes a cohesion between all these subgenre-smashing ideas. In fact, the cohesion is so complete sometimes, I often found myself viewing the album as a collection of 100 parts that could have been configured any which way. That's both good and bad, I suppose, even if it makes for a record that forces you to let it play right through.
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