Arctic Flame - Primeval aggressor 3.5/5

Reviewed: 7-28-06





Tracklist:

1. Steel angels
2. The leveler's wish
3. The vanquished
4. Kingdom of illusion
5. Misery's mystery
6. Green lady of the hill
7. Spark of ire
8. Battle of heaven and hell


This U.S. band takes the classic 80s power metal sound created by bands like Omen, early Fates Warning and especially Savage Grace, wraps it in a strong production, and then factors in a strong dose of the catchy songwriting and Celtic melodies of The Lord Weird Slough Feg. I was expecting more of the former when I listened to samples, and it took me some time to get used to the latter.

“Steel angels” rips at the beginning of the CD with the requisite 80s power metal uptempo opener, and except for its rather sharp production, is so filled with naive rawness that it might be a band’s typical Metal Massacre debut, rather than its first full-length CD. On the other hand, “Green lady of the hill” absolutely kicks off with the catchy, jig-like melodies that will instantly call to mind songs like “Brave Connor Mac” from The Lord Weird Slough Feg. While there remain some speedier sections, there’s an awful lot of songs and sections there of which would dub epic if I’m feeling charitable, and say that they can drone on when I’m not.

The similarities with The Lord Weird Slough Feg are for me, not all positive. There are times where, as catchy as some of their melodies and anthems can be, other aspects grate mildly on my nerves, and, like both The Lord Weird Slough Feg and Manilla Road, there are times where the longer, slower, instrumental sections drone on quite a bit for my taste, wishing the band would get on with something more direct. “The vanquished”, a slower more “epic” number, has some of these elements, even though it has some very strong sections as well. “Spark of ire” also has a very long instrumental section which, while well played and melodic, drags on a bit too long for my taste. It's mild quibbling, and certainly not a huge flaw, but personally it breaks up the quality of the CD with only 8 tracks for me.

Dave Lowe is certainly a decent singer, but not great, and has a kind of half-reserved, NWOBHM influence to otherwise power metal vocals. The guitar leads sound just beautifully clear in this production and are nicely played, and the rhythm section does its job.

Ultimately, if classic 80s power metal, fused with the longer (and frequently slower) instrumental sections of Manilla Road and Slough Feg, and Slough Feg’s celtic, catchy melodies, sounds like a great combination to you (i.e., that particular style of “epic”), then this CD would be highly recommended. But if you prefer a cleaner, tighter, and more concise power metal sound (i.e., you’ve been Stratovariazed), then some of the elements of this CD may not appeal as much to you.



CRAIG




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