It appears Evil Masquerade has made a change, turned a corner of sorts. The last time I checked in with the Danish band it was for 2009's Fade To Black, a decent album of melodic heavy power metal. Since then, from the reviews I read (as I didn't have the album for review), with 2012's Pentagram, the band has dropped speed of power metal and adopted more a melodic hard rock and metal sound.
With the latest, The Digital Crucifix, this continues and adds more than a few progressive elements. I will say this, with no hesitation, this is the best Evil Masquerade album to date, and perhaps one of the best melodic metal albums I've listened to in 2014.
There are at least three elements of this album that made this music work so well for me. The first is simply the depth of guitarist and composer Henrik Flyman arrangements. Between the melody and the ever present rock groove and the twists and turns of tempo and signatures, every song has significant character, catchiness and, well, simply sound terrific. A second pleasing feature of the album is new vocalist Tobias Jansson's voice, who sings from the depths of both hard rock and metal with clarity and emotion. The timbre of his voice will remind some of Ronnie James Dio, maybe with a little Ian Gillian thrown in. Third, and not to dismiss other members, Dennis Buhl's drumming is pretty darn killer throughout. Whether it's for the heavy metal of Sign of the Times or the kick ass roll of the rocker Gasoline & Ice Cold Gin, he roars along.
That latter song, Gasoline & Ice Cold Gin, is probably the best example of how Evil Masquerade brings the rowdiness of a solid rock groove to heavy metal. It's fast, fun, and darn catchy, and Thor Jeppesen's bass lights up the rhythm section. But other songs are equally entertaining. Not the least of which is Like Voodoo, thanks to those drums and almost subtle blues feel. Evil Masquerade seems to tap into their inner Dio, maybe more so their inner (early) Rainbow, with The Shame, The Nature Is Calling, and the beautiful Anywhere the Wind Blows. Got to love the violin and cello, and Flyman's pointed soaring solo. Something more akin to traditional melodic metal, with whispers of NWoBHM, come with Lady of the Night and Sign of the Times. The former sways with that catchy rock groove once more; the latter approaching more straighforward Eighties power metal. I wanted to say that Sign of the Times was my least favorite song here because it seemed to through the band back to their earlier power metal, but not so; it has easily appealed to me after several listens. All in all, Evil Masquerade's The Digital Crucifix is pretty darn terrific, quite creative, catchy, and entertaining melodic metal. Quite recommended.
Evil Masquerade's The Digital Crucifix is pretty darn terrific, quite creative, catchy, and entertaining melodic metal. Definitely their best album to date.
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