Final Stage – Flight Of The Phoenix

Power metal! Without keyboards! I’m serious! There’s not a single keyboard on this entire EP! It’s a great idea! I don’t know why I’m using so many exclamation points! It’s probably because I’m excited that I get to review a power metal release without keyboards! USPM for life!

In all seriousness, though, this is a very good release. This is US style power metal to the bone with a slight brushing of thrash, and though the power/thrash combination is usually one that doesn’t work out (at least in my estimation), it works very well here. The music here reminds me of another relatively unknown artist named Raise The Shield, though the music here is more aggressive and less streaming than that band. A big heavy metal influence is present as well, but it’s not just from the old standbys like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest: I even detected some Black Label Society style chug riffing on ‘In The Night’. Final Stage seems to make an art form of having music that is completely terrible when described yet unbelievably good when listened to. Honestly, does a combination of Raise The Shield, Black Label Society, Jag Panzer, and Judas Priest sound very good when stated? Of course not. Is that what this is? Yes. Does it manage to kick unbelievable ass in the process? You bet.

This is indeed quite heavy for power metal, with some Hammerfall influences clear in the riffing styles and rhythms. And what riffs and rhythms they are: the significant dose of traditional metal causes power metal riffs to be played in heavy metal style. This means that there isn’t much in the way of three chord tremolo affairs, but there is a lot of epic, bombastic, and heavy as hell riffing and badass trad solos, and when combined with the robust, strong bass playing, creates a simply great melodic base for this band. Drumming is actually really excellent: it’s simple but effective, and most of all, they’re played with energy and power. The double bass runs are slower than most Europower bands, but I doubt any of those groups have double bass runs quite this thundering and awesome. Rounding off the compositions are the vocals, and damned good vocals they are: rough and powerful yet soaring and melodic, it’s exactly the sort of thing I want to hear in USPM. This EP really has the total package.

That’s it. No elaboration beyond this is necessary: if you dig USPM, you need to check this out. This is up there with Nicta’s ‘Rage And Fury Fed Us’ as the most promising new power metal release of the past few years, and that’s sure as hell saying something. If this stuff can win over a hardcore goregrind and raw black metal fan like me, it’s clearly doing something right. Highly recommended to all those who love the oldschool.

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~ by noktorn on September 15, 2007.

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