Twyster - Xplode 4/5

Reviewed: 6-10-05


1. The fury
2. Push me down
3. Dying eyes
4. Under the elms
5. The storm is back
6. Sinister grin
7. Follow the storm
8. Xplode
9. Don't say a word
10. Never die
11. Side by side
12. Icon of steel
13. Sweet nail

My affinity for female fronted true heavy metal bands is well documented on this site. Just see last month's Crushing Blow review for a full-scale sermon about the virtues of this style and how it deviates from the female fronted gothic/symphonic bands that are seemingly all the rage these days. Germany's Twyster is one of the brightest hopes for female fronted traditional metal acts, at least in my eyes. Their debut CD, 2002's 'Lunatic siren', was an impressive exercise in song oriented traditional metal borrowing from the Warlock/Doro template but offering an original twyst on the genre in their occasional nods to hard rock sensibilities. To the uninitiated, I would describe Twyster's sound as a ballsier, more unabashedly metal Lullacry or a more refined and slightly more "commercial" Backslash.

Well, the band's immense promise is largely fulfilled with their sophomore CD, 'Xplode', which captures and improves upon all of the finest elements of 'Lunatic siren', while shedding the inconsistency that plagued their first effort. Singer Coco (no, I don't know whether her last name is Krispy, Puff, or Bean, as she shares Madonna's lack of surname) is a powerful, capable vocalist, sounding somewhat like Doro Pesch or especially Heike Grebita (Backslash) at times. Her voice does have a tender side, but she's no shrinking violet, as she belts out most of the material with full power. But the genius behind 'Xplode' is bassist/principal songwriter Oliver Emde, who has an uncanny knack for penning direct, to-the-point, punchy, and unbelievably catchy heavy metal tunes. Most of the songs hover around the 4 minute mark, and feature great riffs, straightforward arrangements and mesmerizing choruses, all with minimal usage of those dastardly keyboards. What are the improvements over 'Lunatic siren'? Well, Twyster have thankfully incorporated more power metal elements this time around, including more double-bass speedsters akin to the standout "May-day" from the debut. Interestingly, the album sequence alternates between the blitzkrieg assaults and the midtempo cuts, with fully 5 of the 13 tracks being all-out double-bass monsters, including the phenomenal title track, "The fury", "Never die" and "Dying eyes". But Emde's songwriting skills have also been upgraded, as the non-speedy tracks don't feel like filler on this CD, which wasn't always true on 'Lunatic siren'. Indeed, the slower tracks like "Side by side" and "Under the elms" are among the strongest songs on the CD. And I don't usually go for piano ballads, but "Follow the storm" is executed superbly, showcasing both Emde's songwriting acumen and Coco's vocal talents in a more atmospheric setting.

In short, 'Xplode' is one of the more accomplished CDs ever to have emerged from the ranks of female fronted metal acts. Twyster have one foot squarely in traditional power metal, so unlike Evanescence or Lacuna Coil there's plenty of crunchy metal goodness to appease even the most discerning headbanger. But they avoid the "retro" trap by skillfully weaving in the hard rock elements of a band like Lullacry, all without offending their core audience with suggestions of "sell out". To my knowledge, 'Xplode' is receiving no significant label push. That's a pity, because Twyster could be huge rock stars (to quote a Fozzyism) with proper promotion and a couple of breaks. Wherever fortune may lead them, Twyster are to be commended for elevating their game and raising the bar against which other bands in this genre will be judged. Hurricanes may suck, but who knew tornadoes could be this much fun?




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