Ah, Power Metal. Over time, the RMR deckhands developed some sort of affinity for the often overblown themes that the genre peddles for yer listening pleasure. Any fantasy will do in there, and that’s perfectly fine. And you get them all, from the sillybones, over the cheesecakes, to truly remarkable pieces.
Albeit that you need to be constantly on your guard to avoid slipping in those fondue puddles. Or you risk getting stuck in syrupy sugary sweetness that will make any stevia plant taste bitter. But that goes with the territory.
Now, Finland’s Mysterizer caught our attention with an uncanny knack for catchy refrains that stick to you like superglue. And the somewhat unhappily named The Holy War 1095 is full of that. Unhappy? Well, anything called Holy War these days carries a stigma. One of abject shame and discredit. Just sayin’.
Now, as the theme goes, I understand that the band refers to the First Crusade, or parts thereof at least. And this – again – fits those typical storylines that the genre adepts like to embark on. Yet, historical and mythical themes often live in the realm of Heavy Metal. So, quite unsurprisingly, Mysterizer‘s style here often leans towards the heavy side of the metal multiverse. And it shows in tracks like King of Kings that somewhat blatantly harken back to The X Factor era of Iron Maiden.
That said, the maidens often tend to scrape right along that thin red line where Power Metal starts and their usual heavy fare ends. So, in essence, we have a perfect fit. So, it’s all good, if the band goes a-stealing in Dickinson’s backyard.
At first, this all sounds like a Holy War on steroids. High pitched screaming and speedy metal that comes with boundless energy galore. All of their wares come with an abundance of strategically placed shredders that should ensure any listener to stay put. And the RMR lookouts really got a kick out of some of the solos. Oh, and you’ll even get treated to a short keyboard solo in Dangerous Game.
Of course, no Power Metal piece is complete without a capable vocalist and The Holy War 1095 is no different. True, Tomi Kurtti often sounds like Helloween on steroids – and that’s not a bad thing. But his vocal performance just as often sounds overly strained and misses some of the high notes when true Dickinson perfection would be in order.1) This seems to be a sign of the times, where stellar Power Metal loses some of its shiny varnish with those annoying near-misses.
After the first few pretty strong tracks that deliver typical speedy Power Metal drunk on Heavy Metal topics, the energy and – indeed – consistency starts to wane some. Virus C – the record’s flagship apparent – still stands proud. But later, you get a mixed bag plagued by mission creep and bloat. Okay, it’s not at terrifying levels, I give them that. But a stricter selection of tracks and a tighter arrangement would have made for a crisper and more focused piece. Less is usually more, and this holy war is no different.
On the other hand, Alea Iacta Est – one of the strongest tracks – sits slam in the middle of them fillers and questionable tunes. This one even gets ya a tolerable metal scream that would make Dani Filth proud. And we’re still singing along with that damned refrain. So, hey, not all is bad out there.
Ultimately though, Holy War contains everything a Power Metal fan will like. A story steeped in history, catchy melodies to sing along with, wild metal screams, and red-hot shredders to die for. And I’m sure that Mysterizer‘s live shows will be as red-hot as their metal proves to be on that disk. That makes me (almost) sad that I couldn’t like the record as much as I wanted to. But the inconsistencies and – yes – impurities were a tad too prominent. Bummer.
Ed’s note: If you’re looking for more pretty snazzy Power Metal, here’s another one for ye.
|1.||We won’t even evoke true masters of the scene (yet).|