heavy/speed metal - Road Runner (1991) - mp3 : Pulled Over - Rating : 9/10

For a couple of years, I thought that the metal industry was different from the mainstream one. I was persuaded that since metal CD's can be assessed by that thing called songwriting, HQ albums didn't need any promotion achieve the success they deserved. I was not familiar with the underground scene at this time. As a matter of fact, Powersurge had all the cards to kick batches of asses. Their material was a fine mixture of genuine speed metal and dark and brilliant US Power Metal, shaped into an output so personal that you won't even bother figuring out their influences. And although it contains no filler, some tracks like Battle Cry containing one of the best solos ever written - or Call Me still stand out as definitive anthems. Unfortunately, their debut came out in the middle of that 6-month Grunge era, and on a label which soon turned itself into one of the most horrendous mall-core garbage dealer. So if you ever come across a copy of it, don't miss it.




Dark Power Metal - Metal Blade (1999) - mp3 : Falling Star - Rating : 9/10

Engine is a side-project formed by members of Agent Steel (B. Versailles), Fates Warning (Ray Alder) and Armored Saint (Joey Vera) . Although the material of their respective bands are quite a bit different from one another, they created a solid album with a style of its own and continuous throughout, though not monotonous. It could be described as Type O Negative-meets-Nevermore, with tracks ranging from dark and slow-paced anthems (Tree of Life) to more typical power metal with crushing riffs and the drumming which fits (You're Awake). Bonus, the lyrics match the melancholy mood of their tunes without sounding whiny a single moment - and are aptly brought to life by Ray Alder's singing. One complain, 45 minutes is damn short for an album which sounds so original in nowadays' metal landscape.



ACCEPT "Staying a Life"

Dark Power Metal - RCA (1990) - mp3 : Head over Heels - Rating : 9/10

Recorded in Osaka in 1985, Staying a Life was originally a post-mortem live tossed at a bunch of nostalgic fans of this mythic 80's band. Several hundred thousands of copies sold later, Accept decided to reform, for a while. Not such a surprising success given the quality of this recording. From "Up to the Limit" to "Fast as a Shark" along with "Metal Heart", "Breaker"... none of their classics is missing in action, the power and clarity of the sound are plain awesome and the performance of the whole band lifts up the songs in a way that's hardly ever been heard on a live album, except Live After Death or Decade of Aggression (Slayer). Two discs to be recommended in particular to young metal fans, who have only had been the opportunity to get acquainted with Accept through covers by new metal bands in lack of inspiration.



SKYCLAD "Folkemon"

heavy/folk metal - Nuclear Blast (2000) - mp3 :The Anti-body Politic - Rating : 8.25/10
   Having been scared away by Skyclad's folk metal label until I heard The Great Brain Robbery off of this album, it'd would be an understatement to say I didn't expect them to sound like that. Riffs pretty close to speed/thrash, angry, yet melodic vocals, and only a discrete violin qualifying as a folk element. The rest is not that uptempo but still keeps this fine mix of dominant guitars and strings often used to echo them, thus adding thickness to the songs. The musicianship is flawless and the songwriting has little to complain about. If you like the mp3 clip and are searching for fresh-sounding metal and don't mind lyrics somewhat offbeat (so what ?), you can do no wrong in picking up Folkemon. Singer and main writer Martin Walker recently parted ways with the band, which will carry on with a substitute.


SINNER "The Nature of Evil"
heavy/power metal - Nuclear Blast (1998) - mp3 :Trust Noone - Rating : 8/10
   Ever heard of Matt Sinner's work ? If you dig Primal Fear, you might have without even knowing it since Ralph Scheeper gets all the attention from metal mags, though Matt Sinner is the keystone to their material, in particular in the songwriting and production departments. So don't be surprised if his band sounds *quite a bit* like PF. Now, why would the world need another euro-power-metal album in that vein, will you ask ? Firstly because the songs on this CD are far from being leftovers of a Primal Fear CD - overall, it's even as good, if not better than any of them to me - and secondly, the smart - read moderate - use of keyboard gives it a noticeable personal twist. Matt Sinner sure hasn't Ralf Sheeper's range, but if songwriting is your main concern in metal, chances are you'll enjoy what you'll find on The Nature of Evil.