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Balflare - Sleeping hollow 3/5

Reviewed: 2-20-09


1. The day falls
2. Bird cage
3. Celestial winter
4. The dunes
5. Rise on the ashes
6. When the hollow sleeps
7. Waking in silence
8. Tormentor
9. Sail to the horizon
10. The eye of Pharaoh
11. Pray for Rosalia

Balflare is a Japanese power metal band, but unlike many Japanese metal bands, they've chosen to sing in English for all 3 of their CDs. Their debut 'Thousands of winters of flames' is a decent power metal CD, but the band took a solid step forward with their 2nd CD 'Tempest', which contains a lot of melody and some fun choruses. 'Sleeping hollow' is their 3rd CD and while it's quite good, I actually like 'Tempest' just a little bit more.

Also unlike many other Japanese power metal bands (Concerto Moon, Versailles, Seven Seas, Galneryus, etc.), Balflare is not of the neo-classical style, and instead is the Japanese answer to early Sonata Arctica. In every way, except for their level of quality, Balflare mirrors the style of early Sonata Arctica that's loved by so many power metal fans. Especially considering Sonata Arctica and other similar bands (Stratovarius, Dreamtale, etc.) have gone in slightly different directions since their beginning, it's great that Balflare can help keep the style alive.

The band has 2 guitarists, Leo Yabumoto and Syuta Hashimoto, and the guitar work on this CD (along with their first 2) is excellent. They provide lightning-fast riffs that will more than please power metal fans, and when combined with the keys from Ayuko Hayano, provide a sound that will definitely be familiar to power metal fans. Musically, there is tons of speed and Balflare certainly has everything in place. So while much of what's on display is unoriginal, for my reasons already mentioned, power metal fans will be satisfied.

Unfortunately, I have to complain about the vocals in yet another one of my reviews for a Japanese power metal CD. Yeah, vocalist Eijin Kawazoe is decent at best, as his lack of pronunciation and melody leaves a lot to be desired. I wouldn't call him horrible or extremely weak, but with the music being so terrific, he surely brings the band's overall quality down. In fact, my favorite parts on this CD are when he's not singing and there's a guitar or keyboard solo circling my mind. It's also unfortunate because the band's songwriting skills are strong and the choruses are very good (especially on the previous CD 'Tempest').

In the end, we have a solid power metal band with 3 CDs under their belt to this point. I like all of the CDs enough to spin them regularly, but with the vocals being of average quality, the band surely won't leave any power metal fan completely amazed. Still, they're worth checking out if you're a major fan of early Sonata Arctica and similar bands.




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