Killing Touch - One of a kind 4/5

Reviewed: 7-10-09


1. The touch
2. Black ice
3. Wheel of fortune
4. Mimicking death
5. The danger zone
6. One of a kind
7. Tommy's cane
8. Still walking
9. Walls of sympathy
10. Falling away
11. Justify
12. Thy will be done

Killing Touch is the new band formed by Michelle Luppi (formerly vocalist of Vision Divine among other bands), who proves that he's more than just a good singer. Luppi is the band leader, primary songwriter, sings, and plays piano and keys on this CD. I'm more than impressed by the quality of this debut CD. It's a pretty diverse CD musically, but it's probably simplest to call it progressive power metal. Generally, I would call the first half of the CD to be more power metal oriented and the 2nd half to be more progressive oriented. But, that's not a hard and fast rule, and thankfully the CD has catchy, compelling melodies throughout. This CD is a concept album based on Stephen King's 1979 novel The Dead Zone. Since a young age I have been a pretty big King fan myself and have read nearly all of his novels, but ironically, this is one of the few I have never read. (I did see the good film starring Christopher Walken so I am familiar with the main plot.) Interestingly, the lyrics have characters with different names from the book. I am not sure if this is due to name changes in translation or if this was done intentionally by the band. I can easily see this CD being a big deal for people who let it sink its hooks into them.

Unsurprisingly to people who have read my reviews, my preference is for the first half of the CD, which has more of the fast, and catchy material. The choruses on songs like "The touch", "Wheel of fortune", and "The danger zone" are just spectacular. Luppi's vocals are predictably great, and you'll probably be humming along with these choruses before you're done hearing each song for the first time. While I may prefer the more power metal sounding stuff, that's not to say that I don't appreciate some of the other songs, because (with one glaring exception) the songwriting remains very strong and compelling throughout. "One of a kind" is a surprisingly strong power ballad - particularly considering it's over 6 minutes long. I am not sure how many songs of this ilk I could name that last so long without me reaching for the skip button. "Tommy's cane" begins with some wonderfully melancholy melodies backing fast double-bass pacing, and showcases some nice heavier riffs later in the track. Sadly at this point we hit the CD's great flaw and a big, huge stumbling block in the CD's momentum: "Still walking". This is a painful and ridiculously long piano instrumental. I'm glad that Luppi is a talented pianist in addition to being such a strong metal vocalist, but over 8 minutes of piano just bores me to death and sticks out like a sore thumb on this CD. You'll definitely want to keep the skip button nearby or simply edit this out of your playlist.

Thankfully, things immediately get back on track with "Walls of sympathy". From this point on the CD mostly stays firmly in the realm of progressive metal, but thankfully maintains peppy tempos and catchy melodies. "Falling away" reminds me (in a good way) of early era Dream Theater, back when I still cared about them. "Justify" follows along the same lines, and is the type of catchy progressive metal I was really into in the early 90s when power metal was scarce. "Thy will be done" ends the CD on a predictably dour note (if you know how the book ends), and probably has the heaviest riff and vibe on the CD. It may not be my favorite track on the CD, but it's a solid conclusion for an epic CD.

I have little doubt that if I had heard this CD in the first half of the 90s, it probably would be one of those "all time great" CDs in my collection. Nowadays it seems like it's nearly impossible for a new metal CD to reach that lofty status as I get older and crankier and feel like I've heard all of the best metal I am ever going to hear. But, this CD does come pretty close. Aside from the big flaw in the middle, this CD is simply excellent. The musicianship is of top quality with great songwriting to match. It's also nice to hear a progressive metal CD which keeps the track lengths reasonable (with the exception I noted above). I highly recommend this CD to all fans who enjoy the genre. I like this better than any of Luppi's work on Vision Divine (and some of that was pretty strong). I will definitely be eager to see what Killing Touch does for an encore.




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