Hibria - Defying the rules 4.5/5

Reviewed: 8-26-05


1. Intro
2. Steel lord on wheels
3. Change your life line
4. Millennium quest
5. A kingdom to share
6. Living under ice
7. Defying the rules
8. The faceless in charge
9. High speed breakout
10. Stare at yourself

Okay, this CD is not quite as "hot off the presses" as most of those that garner full reviews here at Metal CD Ratings. But when I realized recently that it had never received the full review treatment, I simply had to rectify the omission. Those who have followed my reviews know that I've been on a serious South American power metal bender this year, with the vaunted Thunderblast and the mighty Burning in Hell receiving effusive accolades and sitting near the top of my listening stack at all times. Well, it's long overdue to recognize the 3rd pillar of the new unholy South American triumvirate. Ladies and gentlemen, I present Brazil's Hibria.

I have no idea what a "hibria" is in common parlance (maybe it means something in Portuguese?), and I honestly don't care. What I do know is that Hibria are a jaw-droppingly great power metal band. Taking their cues from 'Thundersteel'-era Riot, 'Chapter 2'-era Metalium, and 'Awakening the world'-era Lost Horizon, these Brazilian metal masters excel in every department. Vocalist Iuri Sanson is blessed with the finest pure metal voice I've encountered in aeons, possessing the perfect blend of technical proficiency and emotion, power and control. He's not a dead ringer for anyone, but at various times he reminds me of Rob Rock, Daniel Heiman, Henning Basse, Tony Moore, Mike Vescera and a touch of Andi Deris (but in a good way, if you can imagine that). Is that elite company or what? Trust me, Sanson is every bit the talent of any of the aforementioned vocal legends. Guitarists Diego Kasper and Abel Camargo are no slouches themselves, fairly attacking their instruments as they serve up plenty of intense riffs, tasty leads, and heavenly harmony parts reminiscent of the best that Hansen/Richter or Weikath/Gerstner have dreamed up lately. As for the rhythm section, drummer Savio Sordi is well skilled in the arts of double-bass punishment, and bassist Marco Panichi pounds out some surprisingly clever basslines and even the occasional solo part. There's no weak link in the Hibria army.

As for songwriting, Hibria have delivered the goods, too. The hooks, the melodies, the riffs and the memorable choruses are all present in spades. If you like 'em fast, the Iron Saviorish "Steel lord on wheels", "Change your life line" and "Defying the rules" are about as good as it gets, while in the midtempo stratus you can't go wrong with the likes of "Living under ice" or "High speed break out" (why isn't that one of the light-speed cuts, anyway?). Only the nearly 8-minute long closer, "Stare at yourself", loses focus and meanders just a bit, but it's still a fine track. With songs of this caliber, it's no wonder that Germany's Remedy Records took the unprecedented (for them) step of signing a South American band.

Okay, so what's the catch? Really, there are only 2 caveats to this CD that I can perceive. First, although power metal producer extraordinaire Piet Sielck mixed and mastered 'Defying the rules', 2 members of Hibria actually produced it. It shows, because some of the instruments are just a tad muddier than they should be at times. But that's a trivial quibble. 2nd, notwithstanding my glowing review, my esteemed colleague, John, has previously rated this CD a 3/5. Now, John knows a whole lot about power metal and his tastes and mine converge on nearly every metric (although he doesn't like the Thunderblast debut), so the disparity in our ratings of Hibria suggests that mine should be taken with a grain of salt. For my part, however, I couldn't be happier with 'Defying the rules', and I will wait anxiously for a follow-up CD from these newly-anointed power metal saviors.




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