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Excalion - Primal exhale 4/5

Reviewed: 7-1-05


1. Temptation wasteland
2. A moment in the spotlight
3. Reality bends
4. Dire waters
5. Stage of lies
6. Heart & home
7. Megalomania
8. My legacy
9. Obsession to prosper

This band has been talked about a lot recently and I can see (hear) why. This is a fantastic CD, especially for being a debut. Excalion is a power metal band from Finland that is somewhere in between bands like Stratovarius, Sonata Arctica and Twilightning, and the more melodic bands like Thunderstone, Supreme Majesty and Masterplan. In fact, track 5 "Stage of lies" is structured almost exactly like "Kind hearted light" from the Masterplan debut, including nearly identical riffs and vocal melodies. Regardless, it's a killer song and definitely one of the highlights on the CD. Vocally, Jarmo Paakkonen is comparable to the vocalists of the mentioned bands as well (somewhere in the middle), with a good clear voice that will easily satisfy most fans of the genre.

Track 1 "Temptation wasteland" is a great start, but track 2 "A moment in the spotlight" (with its excellent chorus, and both keyboard and guitar solos) is surely going to grab the attention of Thunderstone and Masterplan fans. The fast-paced track 3 "Reality bends" is pure Stratovarius (at their best) and proves the band can compete with some of the best bands in the genre. I really like the quick keyboard work (a familiar but pleasing sound) from Jarmo Myllyvirta (Jarmo must be a common name in Finland) that starts the song off. The ballad-type track 6 "Heart & home" is very good and not only occurs at just the right place on the CD, but also shows the band can produce solid slow songs. The long final track "Obsession to prosper", with its catchy pace, is a tremendous finish and surely one of the better songs on the CD.

So we have a band with all the ingredients and a debut, while not quite at the masterpice level, is excellent nonetheless. I thoroughly enjoy every song, even though nothing completely blows me away. I think this would have turned even more heads in 1997, but today, isn't really showing us anything new. So although this is a CD that should appeal to the majority of power metal fans (and is highly recommended!), know that the band isn't one of the most original. I'm one that always welcomes high quality power metal though (regardless of originality), so I'm more than happy with this debut!




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