Released: 2017, Killer Metal Records
I suppose I have too state my full bias up-front. Category VI is the second album by this Newfoundland Power Metal band. The main dude is Geoff Waye, Yes EvilG of Metal-Rules.com, the owner of this site and technically my boss! So I’m writing the CD review of a friend’s band. This review would have been much more awkward to write if I didn’t actually like his band, but I do like Category VI. So if this sort of thing worries you, you can discard my opinion as tainted but if not, read on and learn about one of Canada’s most exciting Power Metal bands.
WAR IS HELL has been four years in the making. Since their indie debut FIREBORN the band has actually signed to Germany’s Killer Metal records. I love it when Canada acts get signed to international Metal labels. It sort of justifies or legitimizes the level of talent we have in this nation when other elsewhere see and hear what we already know. Other changes since the last album are that the rhythm section has switched out with Keith (Bass) and John (Drums) taking over. The main asset of the band remains vocalist Amanda Gosse. Her powerful voice soars and she has amazing range and power reminding me less of the Euro-soprano style song-birds, but a bit more of Leather Leone of Chastain, Veronica Freeman of Benedictum and Kobra Paige of Kobra And The Lotus. Lyrically she sings tales of heroism, ancient times, war and especially some historic battles which all combine to help the album have a bit of a war theme, hence the title. The album art matches to with a rendering of the classic ‘face in the mushroom cloud’ motif that has been used by bands before (Destruction comes to mind) also to great effect.
Musically, Category VI are a storming True Metal band with no pretentions and no excuses made. The production is very decent for an independent project and everything is clear, loud and everything sits well in the mix. The songs are engaging and interesting and have a really good sense of pace. One of my favourites is ‘Crossing The Avalon’ which employs a stop-start construct in the opening section before really picking up the pace and riding hell-bent to the finish line. The band often uses tempo changes effectively without resorting to over-used breakdowns. Even though I know the band is from the small province of Newfoundland, they sound like they could have been from any big US city playing in the 80's with bands like Breaker or Intruder or Forte back in Cleveland, Ohio back in 1986.
Sadly in our nation of Canada where so many sub-par bands are stuck back in the turn of the century doing out-dated tech-death and melo-death stuff, it is delightful to hear a handful of bands actually playing real Metal and sticking to the roots of the genre. Unlike the trend-driven sub-genres, the sound of Category VI is timeless and WAR IS HELL has already shown that they are ready to take it to the international stage.