Burning in Hell - s/t 4/5

Reviewed: 7-22-05


1. Freedom
2. Shadows of the wars
3. The end of the world
4. Forever Iíll be here
5. Slave of darkness
6. Welcome to the battle
7. Last of the dragons
8. Sheding bloody tears
9. World of illusion
10. Brave warriors
11. The battle will begin

The 2005 South American Power Metal Onslaught continues! After having my ears pinned back a couple of months ago by the stunning debut from Colombian natives Thunderblast, I have the distinct pleasure of reviewing the first full-length platter from Brazilian up'n'coming metal heroes Burning in Hell. I say "full-length" because this band shared an Asian split-CD release with Japanese stalwarts Aiming High back in 2000. While Burning in Hell's initial CD appearance made quite a splash at the time for its intense, high-velocity Blind Guardian worship, the raw demo-level production definitely hampered my enjoyment of it. Still, I recognized the clear promise that the burning ones displayed, and waited with bated breath for a proper studio release.

Finally, my prayers of steel have been answered, as Burning in Hell have a full-length CD out on Brazil's Encore Records. In the interim, there have been major changes in the camp, as 60% of the lineup are new faces, with only the sibling tandem of Leandro Mereiro (vocals) and Marcelo Moreira (drums) remaining in place. Fortunately, Leandro and Marcelo are the band's chief songwriters, so there have been no major shifts in the musical direction. Burning in Hell continue to attack with an all-out speed-fest of guitar-driven epic European power metal splendor, somewhere in the vicinity of older Steel Attack, faster Gamma Ray or Stormwarrior (but without the overwhelming 'Walls of Jericho' vibe). Vocalist Leandro is somewhat reminiscent of Ralf Scheepers' mid-range, but his forays into higher pitches veer off into screechy and thin territory. He's certainly improved tenfold since the split-CD, and in no way detracts from the stellar music, which features powerhouse double-bass drumming and fast melodic guitars with cool leads and catchy runs, and just the occasional background keyboard trill.

Although every song is constructed predominantly around pedal-to-the-metal quickness, Burning in Hell are quite adept at interweaving different tempos into their compositions to prevent the lightning-fast parts from growing monotonous. And when it does slow down, the listener can rejoice that the next charge-of-the-light-brigade part is just a few beats away. A perfect example of this trait would be the killer tune "Slaves of darkness", a 7 minute hammer which builds seamlessly from a somber piano-and-choir intro to a pummeling verse to a drastically slower bridge to a military-snare chorus with crazy BG-styled shredding to a frenzied instrumental part at the speed of sound. Speaking of creative arrangements, how about the clever clean-guitar picking part to create a momentary breather in the swashbuckling sprint of "Welcome to the battle"? Meanwhile, "Freedom" is an homage to Gamma Ray, channeling both the dizzying rush of "Man on a mission" and the "hey hey" chants of "Heavy metal universe". Even though the songwriting can be fairly involved and complex, the Moreira brothers wisely keep their eye on the ball by building in plenty of catchy, memorable bits.

In short, Burning in Hell have delivered a scorcher of a CD that many of the established (read: complacent) genre heavyweights should eye with envy and more than a little trepidation. Don't look over your shoulders, boys, because the South American hotshots of Burning in Hell (along with Hibria, Thunderblast, Sagga (Holy) and others) are gaining on you. If Burning in Hell can refine the vocals a bit, sharpen the production values (not poor, but a bit muddy at times, and the choirs are not as effective as they should be), and upgrade the lyrics, they'll be ready to conquer the world. For now, though, they've certainly conquered my stereo.




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