Well, I take it back. In the past, the RMR crew often moaned about those Power Metal outfits being too cheesy or just too overboard with – well – anything. Some sweetishly rosy concoction that overdosed on too much sugar and colorful popsicles of undefined origins.
But Blind Guardian‘s newest record The God Machine made us raise our mutual heads quickly. Their brand is indeed powerful PM without the usual fondue. So, we stand corrected, this genre can actually be fun AND tough like a spiked metal fist. And – they are part of that vile mainstream that the RMR crew usually tries to avoid. You know, the devil and holy water kind of thing.
But, if it’s not stuff straight from Kiske’s kitchen, what is it then? Well, we found ourselves yet another hybrid. Their style artfully mixes good ol’ thrash with the (doubtful) delights that sturdy Power Metal brings to the mixing table. And that’s truly funky because we already had another thrash crossover, albeit with an unholy penchant for prog as their second style.
Now, The God Machine here seamlessly joins the tough offerings thrash has on display with those symphonic orchestrations the PM guys often garnish their fare with. And they do this smoothly without creating the impression that Hetfield’s pulling some strings somewhere backstage. The level of geeky integration of both styles is at least as good as the one of the aforementioned thrash/prog folks. In other words, you’ll never get that sinking feeling that you just locked on to a Metallica cover band of sorts. In addition, Blind Guardian here will tone it down to suave levels at certain moments that’ll warrant a comparison with Kamelot, notably on slower charges like Let It Be No More. So, we got true mastery here that proudly waltzes in on a production unmarred by mistakes other bands often make.
In a way, the record is a straightforward one. You get it directly from The Machine without any fluff and unnecessary accouterments. A standalone album if there ever was one, and that’s a good thing. Because RMR here, for some reason, never grabbed a Blind Guardian record for review, and that’s a pity. The wares on offer here are pretty impressive. From insane riffing to stellar shredded solos, heroically belted vocals, and drum work that’s mostly on par with the overall tune, it’s all there. But then, these guys have been around the block a few times, given that they started back in 1988 or thereabouts.
Now, what are the prize cuts on The God Machine? As always, it will be all in the eyes of this here opiniated reviewer. There are two. If it comes to unbridled metallic power, Violent Shadows takes the cake. Yet, nearer to the essence of the record, Architects of Doom will carry the flag. Without any fucking doubt. And – some of the crew here took an unholy liking to the aforementioned power ballad, you know, the one with the suave thing.1)
If there’s anything negative on this record, it would be that it takes its straightforwardness a bridge too far. It’s a no-nonsense, no-dream, no-fantasy record. To the point that the structure sometimes ails from some sort of a repetition bug in greyish colors. Yet, in the bigger theme of things, this is small potatoes.
And for a first-time-ever review @ RMR, Blind Guardian did pretty well. The God Machine gets you a direct, in-your-face mélange of Thrash and Power Metal. And for once, this ain’t a record that tries to pretend what it is not. And it also never tries to smother you in cheese the way other records in the genre do. Nor does it try to outpace any other record out there with speed and atrocities that will make Mad Max pale with envy. Instead, the crew around Hansi Kürsch delivered just plain good and authentic Power Metal with a focus on – power. And we appreciate that.
|1.||Come again? Punishment will be four weeks of vile Black Metal straight. That will put them to rights again. -Ed.|