Custard - Infested by anger 3/5
1. Call of Ares
2. Gods of war
3. The parachute infantry
4. Death from above
5. My last breath
6. Black Friday
7. Time to bleed
9. Endless pain
10. By fire and sword
11. A knight
12. Dead shall rise
14. Only dust
15. Infested by anger
Despite their never-ending line-up changes, Custard have been a steady presence on the European power metal front for some time now. Never greatly celebrated (though the lack of exposure that comes with serving time on subterranean labels like BO Records and Dr Music probably has a lot to do with that), they have nonetheless been releasing a fairly steady stream of decent quality power metal records since getting serious at around the turn of the century.
It has been 4 years now since the enjoyable ‘Forces remain’ was released, but still, despite another coming and going of members that leaves them more or less unrecognisable from the band that debuted in 1999, they just keep soldiering on and that they still sound like a credible continuation of the same project is a pretty remarkable achievement in its own right.
“Soldiering on” is actually a pretty decent set up for discussing the CD, as there is a bit of a theme going on here, with every song in some way relating to war and conflict throughout the ages, with vikings, knights, Spartans and parachute infantrymen all clamouring for space on a CD that sees the band pushing themselves in a slightly more aggressive direction than before.
Some of the pre-release buzz from new label Pure Steel has pushed the idea that Custard have taken something of a U.S. power metal approach to ‘Infested by anger’, and while there is some truth in that, it should be taken with a pinch of salt. Some of the overly exuberant Helloween worship that characterised much of their work on the likes of ‘Wheels of time’ has been toned down a little, and there is a bit more aggression in both the faster riffs and some slightly more heavy-duty midtempo pounders.
Despite that though, it’s the same old Custard, soaring and melodic to the core, though it has to be said not sounding quite as inspired as they have in the past. There is a lot of music on here – 12 songs (and 3 pieces of set dressing) spread across 62 minutes and while none of them are immediately bad, if the band had been more ruthless in a culling a couple in favour of sharpening up a few others it may have resulted in a more streamlined end product.
Performances remain of the expected strong quality, with vocalist Olli Strasser continuing to impress on his 2nd CD with the band. His energetic display gives a bit of added vibrancy to the songs where a less capable vocalist would see them flounder, and while Guido Brieke’s eccentric wailing is still missed somewhat, Strasser really cements his role in the band here. There are still a couple of iffy choir sections here and there that just seem to get Strasser’s way, but on the whole the vocals are probably the CD’s strongest point.
The protracted production period resulting from member and label shifts may have contributed somewhat to ‘Infested by anger’ feeling a little overcooked, and it would maybe take getting into a more regular rhythm of tour-CD-tour if Custard are to get back into the same fighting fit shape they were a few years back, but this 5th full-length CD is another enjoyably solid effort with only a bit of unneeded flab to its detriment.
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