Metalium - Grounded/Chapter eight 3.5/5
1. Heavy metal
2. Light of day
3. Pay for fee
4. Pharos slavery
5. Crossroad overload
6. Falling into darkness
8. Borrowed time
9. Once loyal
Germany’s Metalium has always been a talking point for metalheads in recent years. In metal forums across the world, topics on Metalium have always been animated and colourful, with opinions flying left, right and center about the band’s musical consistency through 7 CDs and their seemingly lack of direction in recent years.
For those uneducated on Metalium, they play a generic and cheesy form of power metal that you have all heard before from other similar sounding power metal bands in some form or another. Without breaking any boundaries or reaching new heights, Metalium’s sound is typical of the power “metal worship” genre; featuring speedy riffs, double bass, impressive solos and mid to high-pitch wailing vocals. Other bands that can fit into this “cheesy” category include Mystic Prophecy, Cryonic Temple, Paragon, Heavenly, Dream Evil and Firewind.
Starting strongly, the band’s first four releases (Chapters one-four) ‘Millennium metal’, ‘State of triumph’, ‘Hero nation’ and ‘As one’ were perceived as quality CDs and received above board reviews around the globe. But from there, Chapters five-seven (‘Demons of insanity’, ‘Nothing to undo’ and ‘Incubus’) were definitely not at the same calibre as the first 4 and this is where the band has become stagnant and fans have begun to lose interest.
Metalium have hardly changed their songwriting from Chapters four-six, however I must say that Chapter seven (‘Incubus’) did have some noticeable differences from their previous CDs. The end result, unfortunately, is that it sounds all too similar, with the band not wanting to evolve, take a risk or branch out; preferring to produce the same CD over and over again. Metallium’s biggest weakness (in my opinion) is their inability to write consistent catchy songs, which is a key factor in becoming a successful band. Despite 7 releases under their belt, Metalium are not going anywhere in the metal world, while other bands simply pass them by.
One thing which gave me optimism for a hopeful turnaround of events, was with vocalist Henning Basse taking on a new challenge by performing vocal duties for the progressive symphonic metal band Sons Of Seasons, and their debut release ‘Gods of vermin’. Both the music and Basse’s performance was excellent and this has now led into Metalium’s 8th full-length release, entitled ‘Grounded/Chapter eight’. Could their be something in the works to bring this band back to form? Let’s find out.
From the opening track “Heavy metal”, the song features this line right off the bat: “We are heavy metal, if you don’t like it... Fuck You.” The song is quite heavy with blistering guitars and hard aggression, while Basse sounds fantastic as he belts out the lyrics in almost a pure rage. This is certainly a confident way to begin the CD. Great tracks continue on ‘Grounded’ with “Light of day”, a slower mid-paced track with Metalium’s trademark wailing guitar riffs and a crunching bass line that keeps your head nodding.
After 2 sub-par tracks we get to “Crossroad overload”, a top-notch melodic track with another heavy bombastic riff, while Basse’s vocals standing out in superiority. The solos too, thus far, have been quite memorable; with axe-men Matthias Lange and Tolo Grimalt sounding refreshed and revitalized. “Falling into darkness” is a swift and speedy track once thrown into full throttle, after the slow building verses. With an obvious ‘Painkiller’ Judas Priest influence, Basse breaks out the Halford high-pitched shrieks in the intense chorus’, making for an exceptional track. The remainder of the CD takes a slight dip, until you get to the final track, “Lonely”, which picks up the quality again. The closer is another melodic scorcher, with heavy bass and creative riffs and hooks. The solo, like all the others before it kicks ass and the CD finishes on a well-deserved high.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by this effort by Metalium. ‘Grounded’ may have a few fillers, tracks which didn’t really get off the ground, but the majority of tracks are very good and it’s easily the best work they’ve done in quite some time. I still feel that Metalium’s songwriting is in a need of a re-tooling, but at least they are now heading back in the right direction. Aside from the music, I think it is the improvement and better use of vocalist Henning Basse which makes this CD as good as it is. Basse’s vocals have never sounded better and he continues to be one of the better power metal singers in the world today. Metalium fans should grab this without a 2nd thought, while power metal fans who may have jumped off the bandwagon should really give the band another chance after listening to this CD.
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