Released: 2012, Pure Steel Records
Once again, here is another band that I somehow missed over the course of their entire career. Emerald formed 17 years ago, and the Swiss band now has five albums under their belt. The new album, released on Pure Steel Records, is a head banging 45 minutes of worthy material. In fact, it is worthy enough that I will be seeking out the other four albums as well. UNLEASHED is an album that primarily utilizes the U.S. version of power metal, but there are ample amounts of European power metal mixed in, the keyboard being subtle and often undetectable though.
UNLEASHED kicks things off with the up tempo butt kicker “Face of Evil”, and reveals its secret weapon in new singer Thomas Winkler. Winkler sounds a bit like Ripper Owens in the lower registers and bears more than a passing resemblance to Bruce Bruce himself in the higher ranges. He is a good fit, and while the opening track is not the best on the album, it clearly sets the tone for the meat and potatoes style of power metal that seems to be making a bit of resurgence these days. Musically, Emerald recalls some of the finer qualities of Shok Paris, with bits of Crimson Glory and Jag Panzer mixed in as well as Iced Earth’s chunky speed. Choruses are epic and memorable, every song really building to that expected payoff and Emerald delivers. The running order is my only minor gripe, with the better songs seeming to be on the second half of the album. Standout examples would be “The Eyes of the Serpent”, featuring guest vocalist George Call (ex Omen), the European style of “Ancient Mystery”, and the excellent “Harleking”. The latter tune’s intro sounds like something you would hear in a Final Fantasy game before really picking up the pace.
Take away the slight misstep in track order, and UNLEASHED is a fine album. I should probably point out that there is nothing unique here. It is well produced and perfectly executed but does not offer anything you have not heard before. There is a lot of variety in the album, which at times seems to hinder its cohesiveness. UNLEASHED is likely to appeal to fans of the less frilly style of power metal, or power metal fans in general that need some balance to counter the keyboard laden styles of some of the leading bands of the genre.