Masquerage - Backstabber 4/5
3. When the world comes closer
4. Another sleepless night
5. Rubber band accelerators
6. The roles we play
7. The beach lion
8. Going home
9. Dance with me
10. Talking to me
11. All the heroes
12. When the angels left
I had never heard of Masquerage from the Southern Bothnia of Finland. When the drummer contacted me about doing a review for their 3rd CD 'Backstabber', I honestly did not know what to expect. I was very honored to actually receive a physical copy from the band just prior to Christmas. This was truly a welcomed gift, and a wonderful surprise.
The band describe themselves as being melodic heavy rock and metal, and that is a befitting description, but they are really beyond description. Each song incorporates elements of all these styles and more. There are plenty of cool guitar melodies, and stimulating soloing. Mika Maunus knows how to employ his characteristic keyboards, utilizing them sparingly, but also in an evocative way, which works well with the music; such that each songs stands out as its own entity of awareness.
Clearly comparisons to compatriots Sonata Arctica, Stratovarius, Kuias, Twilight Guardians, etc. would all be acceptable, but I would be remiss to not also mention Edguy, Pretty Maids, TNT and Savatage as being an influence.
In fact, lead vocalist and guitarist Kimmo Peramaki was once the singer for the first few excellent Celesty CDs. Drummer Marko Yla-Hakkinen writes the lyrics, and even if the English renderings do not always translate accurately or grammatically in the very detailed CD booklet, replete with descriptive photo images alluding to each track, the words are very witty, clever, and quite amusing. For example a song like "Rubber band accelerators" deals with the frustration of rush-hour traffic, and annoying "Sunday" drivers, while "Talking to me" verifies that these work-holic foolish heroes have no fear of the strangers in the dark.
The tongue-in-cheek rant known as "The beach lion" scoffs at those tan, blonde, male bodybuilders who think they are God's gift to women. I love the honesty and aggression of "Going home", and the impassioned romantic reflection of "Dance with me", a moonlight timed masquerade ballad. The closer "When the angels left" has female vocals and the enchanted presence of recent Nightwish.
Every song is very infectious, unique, and truly a sonic celebration. You will feel quite empowered as you sing along to these well-written canticles, as you begin to feel better about living your life. This is uplifting power metal with thought-provoking lyrics. Just consider the ramifications of the peaceful solution for "When the world comes closer", or the wisdom for the reflective anthem, "The roles we play".
The production is damn good for this 57Records label debut. 'Backstabber' is a qualified headbanger of a CD. I am pleased that for well over a decade Masquerage has been heeding the hard-rock-metal call. I wish these bad to the bone bastards everlasting good luck on a promising future.
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