Imagika - Feast for the hated 4/5

Reviewed: 11-21-08


1. Waking a dead man
2. Your creator
3. Bleed as one...appease the gods
4. Behind immortal eyes
5. Feast for the hated
6. Thinning out the herd
7. The sick sense
8. New power rises
9. Held beneath
10. Succubus

These Northern Californians (San Carlos) continue to forge out thrash-edged melodic metal in the traditions of their geography with their 6th CD, but do so with their own superb voice. As a comparison, they probably come closest in style to Forbidden in their earlier CDs, that is, with lots of melody above the more aggressive music, along with classic Defiance, Testament and Iced Earth, but it’s a good sampling of everything you could expect, including deftly inserting mellower touches to even the heaviest of songs. The result is merging these elements into their own fresh sound, and yet at the same time not deviating at all from what I, as a metalhead, enjoy and expect. Pretty good combination.

The opener “Waking a dead man” begins with just a touch of graceful melody and a delicate roll of the drums, suddenly becoming roars out with extra aggression, with vocalist Norman Skinner channeling heavier Testament with its catchy thunder. “Your creator” is similar, brief but powerful, with both raspy growls and purer singing. “Bleed as one...appease the gods” has a more melodic chorus that slows things down just half a gear from the full on speed metal assault of the verses, with a bit more eastern melody to the chorus. The title track slows things down for a much mellower intro before kicking the speed up to full, but keeping a more melodic vocal style. “Thinning out the herd” has plenty of aggressive energy, but it also has one of the catchiest choruses on the CD, as well as some of the most enjoyable melodic guitar leads as well. “Succubus” wraps up the CD with its most epic tune, and one of its most impressive moments, with some beautiful vocals from Melissa Evett in what technically is a duet (but one that’s dark and heavy) and showcases outstanding melodies.

Band mainstay Steven Rice, who writes all the music, performs all the leads and solos this time around, and does so with devastating aplomb, again being able to pull off both melodic power metal leads and crunchier thrash riffs. Vocalist Skinner continues to demonstrate that he can perform in a variety of ways, to gruff, catchy thrash shouts, to high-pitched leather lunged, to more melodic, and he does them all pretty well, which, when combined with the kinetic energy of this CD makes it pretty satisfying and enjoyable. Jim Pegram provides the bass while Henry Moreno (who’s been with the band since the first CD) is attacking the drums. The production is improved from their prior CDs, and while it could probably be refined even more (the sounds are a bit too crowded, the bass and treble are both a bit too extreme and shallow, that’s being picky) it’s certainly strong enough to thoroughly enjoy this CD.

The lastest Testament CD ('The formation of damnation') was stellar and one of the best CDs of the year, and, while this CD isn’t quite that good, it is even more diverse and varied, and an excellent slab of American-styled, melodic, thrash metal, and while there has also been a minor American/Bay Area thrash renaissance of late, 'Feast for the hated' surpasses the high quality latest release from Exodus ('The atrocity exhibition/Exhibit A') and certainly Metallica’s recent attempt to sound better, so if you like that sound, and especially if you like the idea of more variations being woven into that sound, this CD is highly recommended.




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