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Evil Masquerade
Theatrical Madness
July 2005
Released: 2005, Frontiers Records
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Madman

Evil Masqurade is a band that sees a few rather familiar names coming together. On vocals the band has ex-Royal Hunt frontman (before DC Cooper was able to help bring Royal Hunt to a wider audience) Henrik Brokman, with Henrik Flyman on guitar from Wuthering Heights, Kasper Gram from Manticora (he was also on the first Wuthering Heights album) on bass, and Dennis Buhl on drums (who plays in the band Sinfonia, whom I’ve never heard of). With that kind of combination my was expecting a quality release, maybe not something to blow my mind but something that could at least hold its own.



While not having heard Evil Masquerade’s debut from last year, WELCOME TO THE SHOW, I had heard the band’s name in passing, mainly because a friend of mine is a big fan of the last Wuthering Heights album. Evil Masquerade create metal in the slightly light power metal vein, definitely heavier than bands like Stratovarius or Sonata Arctica but the band definitely aren’t going to tear your face off they’re going to seduce the listener with catchy melodies and draw one in on the merit of their compositions. There are slight leanings towards the classical here and there but for the most part the band plays it pretty straight. One major compliment I have is the voice of Henrik Brokman, while he never impressed me much during his stint with Royal Hunt, he definitely impresses me here. His voice seems to have become stronger since the last time I heard him (Royal Hunt’s CLOWN IN THE MIRROR, which is over 10 years old by now).



With “When Satan Calls” Evil Masquerade find themselves in rather familiar territory, something that’s not too far from the members’ other/prior bands but it does have its own identity. Nice heavy riffing, with accenting double bass but it’s not just the straight chugging and double bass found in many a power metal band, there’s a bit more meat to this one, it’s a bit more intricate. Instantly things don’t feel as faceless as much of the band’s contemporaries. The band stumbles shortly after with “Theatrical Madness”. For some reason the band sees fit to play the more traditional, heavy on the double bass, power metal song which, in my opinion, dumbs things down slightly. The quirky and, admittedly, rather corny section from 2:22 to 2:40 brought about my attention rather fast with its quick use of sound effects and over the top vocals before bring in a heavy, break riff. It’s this middle section of the song that keeps things in check and gives the nice deviation, with it’s heavier riff and interesting solo. “Bozo the Clown” starts off rather heavy before keyboards strike in to play along with the guitar. Following a classical music pattern that almost makes things sound like a carnival, which I would presume is the band’s intent given the song title. It admittedly sounds rather cartoony but I’d argue that it comes off rather well.



In “Demolition Army” we yet again see the band’s penchant for the more typical European power metal approach. Interestingly enough though the band throws in yet another interesting middle section to the song with a couple heavy riffs and a solo section that would fit on most progressive metal albums. It’s interesting to see the band do this as it makes the more straight parts come off as more powerful and creates a nice mini-adventure for the song without sticking to one set path. Evil Masquerade took the 1st scene from the 4th act of Macbeth to create an interesting song in “Witches Chant”. The song makes use of choir and a pounding, plodding beat to create an epic atmosphere, especially during the actual witches chant which comes off amazing with Henrik Brokman’s multiple vocal lines.



Evil Masquerade are probably my biggest surprise of the year thus far, creating a power metal album that not only sticks the genres trappings but is able to work within them to bring a much needed breath of fresh air.
Track Listing

1. When Satan Calls
2. Theatrical Madness
3. Bozo the Clown
4. Now When Our Stars Are Fading
5. A Great Day to Die
6. The Demolition Army
7. Snow White
8. Witches Chant
9. Other Ways to Babylon
10. The Dark Play
11. Outro

Lineup

Henrik Brockmann - Vocals
Henrik Flyman - Guitars
Kasper Gram - Bass
Dennis Buhl - Drums


Next review: » Evil Masquerade - Theatrical Madness
Previous review: » Evil Masquerade - Pentagram

Evil Masquerade
Theatrical Madness
July 2005
Released: 2005, Frontiers Records/Atenzia Records
Rating: 5.0/5
Reviewer: Anders Sandvall

THEATRICAL MADNESS is the follow up to last years debut release WELCOME TO THE SHOW by this Danish band called Evil Masquerade. The band leaders are Henrik Brockmann (ex- Royal Hunt) along with Henrik, Henrik Flyman (ex-Moani Moana, Zool). To complete the line up the band consists also of Kasper and Dennis. The line up hasn’t changed since the debut, but this time they have taken in some guests like André Andersen (Royal Hunt) on keyboards in “Theatrical Madness”, Richard Andersson (Time Requiem, Space Odyssey) also on keyboards in “Now When Our Stars Are Fading” and the very skilled newcomer Mikkel Jensen features on keyboard in “Other ways to Babylon”.



This time the guys have moved in another musical direction. The more faster melodic hard rock they had on the debut is now faster music that almost borders on heavy metal. The neo-classical influences are narrowed down and replaced with more progressive/symphonic metal. Still there are neo-classical influences but in smaller amounts. The arrangements sound more epic and majestic and the music is also more technically played.



The musical description of ‘theatrical metal’ is correct because as on the debut there are some parts on this album that sounds just like circus music.



The band delivers 11 solid tracks including one outro that closes the album. One of the songs, “Witches Chant”, has Henrik put music to Shakespeare and was apparently taken from the 1st scene of the 4th act from Macbeth.



Guitar player Henrik has written all the material and he has done a much better job compared to on the debut. The quality has improved a great deal, the melodies sound stronger and the arrangements are also much stronger. Henrik has managed to gather all different kinds of music styles and put them together in a brilliant way. I’ve had this promo copy for a long time now and the material stands the test of time. You’ll discover several new things in the music each time you listen to it.



Henrik has produced this album, but the mixing guy is new for the band, this time the mixing and mastering was done by Tommy Hansen (TNT, Helloween, Pretty Maids). Henrik Flyman has done a wonder with the production, he has brought out a sharp and heavier sound from the guitar and he allows the singer to take more place and show off a little bit more than on the debut. The sound can only be described as being majestic and epic at the same time. Henrik, the singer, does a much better job this time, he didn’t impress at all on the debut but on this album he shows a wide vocal range and an incredible passion in his vocals.



Henrik, the guitarist, contributes with a varied and heavy guitar playing throughout the whole album. He handles the lead parts both fast and technically. Dennis and Kasper in the rhythm section are really skilled. Both handle heavy metal play as well as a more melodic playing style. The guest keyboard players all have a very intense style and they add more depth to the music in the tracks in which they appear.



I was impressed by the bands debut album, but this new album an improvement. They did a smart move in cutting back the neo-classical influences and replacing them with more heavy metal. All of the material is of a really high class and the production is well balanced. All of the tracks are killer and it’s impossible to pick out any favorite amongst them. The only word I can think of that sums up this album is IMPRESSIVE!



I know that Evil Masquerade have done two shows in their hometown Copenhagen, Denmark, but I really hope that they can do more shows now that the album is out. With THEATRICAL MADNESS, Evil Masquerade prove that they are here to stay and that they have a lot to offer us in the future.



Labels: http://www.frontiers.it AND http://www.atenzia.com
Track Listing

When Satan calls
Theatrical madness
Bozo the clown
Now when our stars are fading
A great day to die
The demolition army
Snow white
Witches chant
Other ways to Babylon
The dark play
Outro

Lineup

Henrik Brockmann – lead vocals
Dennis Buhl – drums
Henrik Flyman – guitar
Kasper Gram – bass

Special guests
Andrè Andersen – keyboard on track 3
Richard Andersson – keyboard on track 4
Mikkal Jensen – keyboard on track 9


Next review: » Evil Masquerade - Third Act
Previous review: » Evil Masquerade - Pentagram





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