Sencirow - Perception of fear 4/5

Reviewed: 4-14-06


1. Intro
2. Burn it down
3. Connection of evil
4. Fear
5. Incidious dimensions
6. Keeper of souls
7. Wargames
8. Secret thoughts
9. The storm
10. Dreamspace

Bubbling up from the fertile, burgeoning German metal underground, Sencirow have emerged to cast their name into the power metal sweepstakes. Evidently, this quartet toiled in obscurity for many years before attracting the attention of the very fine AFM Records label. Even then, many obstacles and delays were presented, as this debut CD was recorded back in March 2004 under the watchful eye of uber-producer Andy Classen but is only now seeing the light of day. (It is licensed in the USA on Locomotive.) I don't know what kind of marketing push AFM is giving these lads, but whatever it is, they should triple it so that this outstanding 'Perception of fear' CD can receive its due from metal masses worldwide.

Many observers have likened Sencirow's powerhouse attack to that of Swedish maestros Morgana Lefay, but I find that analogy both misleading and simply incorrect. To my ears, Sencirow offer a much more quintessentially Teutonic vibe that is speedier, thrashier and more melodic than the twisted, melancholy mutterings of the Swedes. Sencirow are purveyors of the heavy-duty, no-frills, muscular German power metal sound perfected by such stout warriors as Paragon, Mystic Prophecy, Iron Savior, mid-period Brainstorm, and perhaps especially the 'Black in mind' and 'Soundchaser' periods of Rage (minus the virtuoso Smolski shredding and not-of-this-Earth Terrana drumwork, of course). Another, more obscure point of comparison would be Colombia's Thunderblast, about whom I have raved on these pages previously.

Getting down to brass tacks (or should I say, iron spikes?), everything about 'Perception of fear' is top-notch and professional, from the excellent sound job to the rock-solid individual performances to the suitably eye-catching (sorry, I couldn't resist) cover art. But a couple of elements put this debut CD over the top, elevating it from the ranks of the simply good to the upper tier. The songwriting is compact and concise, as evidenced by the 42 minute duration of this 9 song (plus intro) affair. It is also incredibly catchy and well done throughout, with adrenaline-fueled opener "Burn it down", the thrash-tinged stomper "Connection of evil", the ode to the hurricane-afflicted "The storm", and the awesome harmonies-and-speed bombast of "Dreamscape" meriting particular attention. Lest you think that the band is limited to 4-minute scorchers, the 6-minute mini-epic "Keeper of souls" and 2 other tunes bust loose with dazzling acoustic interludes before firing up the Marshalls again. And Sencirow's vocalist, Kensington, is their secret weapon, delivering his lines in a throaty, full-bodied timbre that is at times eerily reminiscent of Peavy Wagner (Rage), with a touch of Piet Sielck (Iron Savior) or even the Perzonal War guy tossed in for good measure.

Given the effusive praise, why is this CD "only" being given a 4? While I believe there's some 5-point material on here, there are also a couple of more typical tracks that might warrant no more than a 3.5 on our stringent Metal CD Ratings scale. More importantly, I sense that this band's best work awaits them. They have all the ingredients (songwriting, musicianship, vocals) to develop into something truly extraordinary, but they're not quite there yet. This band needs room to grow, so I won't put a glass ceiling over their heads with an immaculate rating on their debut. I have no idea what the hell a Sencirow is, but I'd wager it's an old German expression meaning "that which doth rocketh mightily."




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