Mystic Prophecy - Savage souls 4/5

Reviewed: 4-28-06


1. Shadow beyond my soul
2. Master of sins
3. Evil empire
4. Savage souls
5. In the darkness
6. Deception of hate
7. Sins and sorrows
8. Best days of my life
9. Nightmares of demon
10. Victim of fate
11. Into the fire

This is the 4th CD from this magnificent German band, whose metal is forceful and unique, aggressive and melodic. I hesitated using the term aggressive, only because I think it could call up to mind things edging on death or black metal, and the incredible songwriting and melody on this CD makes such comparisons laughable, and yet, there is a "savage" ferocity, restrained just enough, that makes this feel much more virulent than the typical melodic European metal acts. Combine the general aggressive melody of Iced Earth (but not their unique style), with some of the feeling of both older and more recent Brainstorm, Blind Guardian, Grave Digger, and Sinner's inscrutable songwriting, and you get an idea of what to expect and this band. And yet, for all the original blending of these elements, this couldn't be a more direct heavy metal band. This is heavy metal vocals, guitar, bass, and drums, delivered with alacrity and precision, but with a snarl and force that is untamed still.

Vocalist Roberto Dimitri Liapakis helps capture the band's great sound, with a voice that combines the strong mid-range tone of someone like Andy Franck from Brainstorm with the leather throated emotion of a Tony Martin or Dio. While presenting a ferocious tone, he is very accomplished technically, and the lyrics are so clear and easy to understand, a rather unique treat these days. The guitar work is stunning by Markus Pohl and Martin Grimm, full of sensational leads that range from frightening speed and fire to great harmonic melody. The beginning of the first song, "Shadow beyond my soul" slices into your ears immediately like Barakka on a rampage, with work that is fast, shining, intricate, and magnificently engaging. Martin Albrecht's bass work is resounding and dynamic, and Matthias Straub's drumming is potent and precise.

The production is also all you could hope for. Whether it is the engaging and prominent emotion of the vocals, the razor sharp steel of the guitar sound, the clear, full tone of the drums, you are left with the full on metal sound as it always should be. The lyrics also eschew some of the overly repetitive "true metal" lyrics that can be a bit tiresome... Indeed, this band couldn't be any purer heavy metal, but they don't need to sing about that, and that's something that is well remembered at this point.

Again, the band learns the lesson of not trying to cram 15 songs onto a 65 minute platter or drag every song out into 6 or 7 minute territory, one of the unfortunate results of the CD age, but rather, each song has not an ounce of fat on it, but is stripped down to its meaningful essence, and the CD itself is just the right length. The songwriting is such a great counterpoint to the aggressive elements, because, much the way Sinner's CDs always manage to create such rock solid choruses, this band does the same thing. Overall, just a remarkable piece of work by one of the most promising and consistent of the "new" bands out there on the horizon.




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