Reviewed: May 2004
Released: 2004, n/a
Reviewer: Michael De Los Muertos
Uh-oh, here comes Metalium again. Just to disprove the oft-quoted slander that I never met a German power metal band I didn’t like, I haven’t been particularly kind to this band; their albums, while not bad, aren’t particularly impressive, and I savaged their performance at Wacken 2001 as one of the most lackluster of the festival. Metalium desperately wants to be as important to the power metal genre as Blind Guardian or Gamma Ray, and it may be that they think they are. At least with their new album, AS ONE–CHAPTER FOUR, they’re getting closer to being back on track, though this album has its faults too.
As the “chapter” subtitle might suggest, this is a concept album and a part of a larger story, which Metalium, taking a cue from Rhapsody, has chosen to spread out among numerous albums. The big problem with Metalium is that throughout the previous three albums you A) easily forget what the story is, and B) don’t care that much anyway. Evidently this album deals with the creation of a female uber-warrior called “Metaliana,” whose calling is to do battle with the metal-less “Heathens” who decry the traditional Manowar-esque way of life. Frankly I couldn’t have cared less about the story on this album and in fact think it’s quite ridiculous. But the music is pretty good. Rollicking power anthems, double-bass drums and the impressive lungs of vocalist Hennig Basse carry the album through its thirteen tracks, and thankfully the band never lets their “epic” story get in the way of the music. I especially like “Pain Crawls in the Night,” the manic feeling of “No One Will Save You” and the slow, swaggering guitar riffs on “Illuminated.” As you might imagine, the lyrics on this album are pure pap, but at least it’s interesting to listen to.
The unfortunate thing about Metalium’s previous chapters is that they try very hard to sound epic, but the music just leaves you kind of cold. While AS ONE doesn’t quite push them into the Blind Guardian chills-down-your-spine category, at least they have finally put out a concise, cohesive and catchy power metal album that latches onto the reader in a way that the previous albums have not done. I suspect the fact that they do this through their pure musical sound, as opposed to any affinity for the story, concept or perceived stature of the band, may be something that is still lost on Metalium. But that’s pretty much beside the point. Is AS ONE a good album? Yes. Is it worth buying Chapter Five when it inevitably comes out? Maybe. If you’re a sucker for power metal, Metalium is probably a good investment. If not, don’t expect to be converted.
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