|Leverage Blind Fire||Frontiers Records|
Finland's Leverage burst onto the world stage in 2006 with one of the best melodic metal album's of the year. Hell of way to make an entrance with what I still rate as one of the best debut albums seen within the genre. So expectations are extremely high for Blind Fire, the band's sophomore release.|
I think fans will be very happy with the efforts of the band second time around. There are a couple of points I will make, but to cut to the chase, the band has taken the blueprint of the debut and reproduced it again here.
There are no dramatic changes to style or direction or tempo even, so those impressed by the debut will find plenty more to appreciate here.
Vocalist Pekka Heino made an instant mark and is back in full force again here, with his melodic prowess matched by his sheer breathtaking power – right now in my mind, second only to Jorn Lande in this genre.
The barnstorming double-kickdrum fired Shadow Of The Night opens the album with a rush, but it is King Of The Night that features the better hook and some tasty guitar soloing.
The free flowing Stormchild and the slower but more brazen Sentenced continue the power onslaught of the first twenty minutes of this album. There's barely the chance to take a breath.
Hellborn sounds brutal, but it is a little more melodic and has an anthemic quality to it, with Pekka's vocals designed for a stadium feel.
Mister Universe has a similar feel before the band eases up for their first ballad – Don't Touch The Sun. Of course, this is not your average ballad, but rather a slower intense, emotional track that builds throughout, to a suitably powerful conclusion.
Run Down The Hill takes us back to the opening moments of the album and a flurry of double-kickdrums and powerful hooks.
Heart Of Darkness has some fabulous guitar soloing within and a good chorus hook, but I think the track still had some potential to be bigger and better.
Learn To Live on the other hand fulfills all potential and delivers all, in being a super powerful and passionate metal ballad complete with soaring vocals and guitars.
I recall an old statement about the challenges of following up a monster debut. The author eludes me at this time, but the comment went something like "a band has a lifetime to write and record their first album, but then must repeat that entire process in less than a year in order to deliver an equally good follow-up."
I'm referencing that now as I feel that is somewhat the case here. I think the debut is probably the better album, but only by a narrow margin, and because it sounded fresher, due to the band having the advantage of being unknown and being able to surprise their audience.
The production quality is almost as good as the sonically bombastic debut. Certainly the same approach has been taken, but the debut had a slightly crisper top end sound.
Oh, and minor point to some perhaps, but the cover art is simply not good enough for a band of this stature. The debut had a simple, but really classy feel to it. This cover has little appeal aside from the band's logo.
Incidentally – that classic debut album Tides has now been re-issued by Frontiers in conjunction with this release (complete with the 2 original Japanese bonus tracks), so if you are new to this band, so not hesitate to pick up both albums at once and be prepared to be blown away.
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