Released: 2011, Indie
2011 is the year of the supergroup! First Symfonia, then Fullforce and now…Holy Force! My bias is pretty transparent with these types of groups, I tend to be automatically favourable to them, based on the sheer talent and firepower of the bands members. Holy Force is no exception and with a band like this, it’s a safe bet I will like it even before hearing it based on the track record of the members and my previous enjoyment o their work in other projects. Who are the Holy Force? Check out this line-up. Mark Boals on vocals, Mike LePond on bass, Rhino on drums, and the team is rounded out by founder Ango Chen, from Taiwan, on the guitar. You see, on paper it’s already a winner!
Even the most amazing line-up of all time could still on the outside chance, create a really poor record, but with the self-titled debut of Holy Force, that is not the case. Just the opposite in fact and I never doubted for a second. This multi-national super-group, all-star project have created just under an hour of a masterpiece of Metal.
Chen has put together a really fine piece of slightly progressive Power Metal with some symphonic hints. I’d hesitate to call it neo-classical as the Metal comes first and is not over-run with symphonic elements. For example, check out the straight ahead blitzkrieg of speed on the track, ‘ A Country Good Or Bad’ It’s pure speed-Metal ala late 90’s Stratovarius with hints of keyboards, Rhino’s fastest footwork in years and the stratospheric vocals of Boals. Check out the scream at about the 1:50 minute mark!
This is Boals finest performance in years, he really stays in his high register, and his clean, clear powerful his distinct voice is a highlight on the album. He really pushed himself on this one. As mentioned Rhino really puts on a clinic on this he plays with much more speed and force than on his Angels Of Babylon project from last year. In fact he probably hasn’t played this fast since his Manowar days in the early 90’s.
Lyrically the band trend familiar Power Metal ground, not necessarily fantasy but positive songs of Warriors, Flying, Angels, Dreams and the Future. It’s all pretty light and breezy and inspirational, nothing too deep, dark or evil. Not really outright Christian but certainly thoughtful and positive. Boals leads the charge with songs that are simple and easy to embrace and sing along to.
There are a trio of short instrumentals to mix up the 14 cut album, an atmospheric, soaring guitar piece called ‘Breathe’, a dazzling display of acoustic piano called ‘Sky Etude’ and a short, swirling symphonic piece called ‘Waiting’. Chen is certainly a centerpiece of the album. His work is definitely in the Malmsteen school of speed and shred but not perhaps as quite in your face, he shows a bit more restraint, except on the solos, and he lets the songs take the lead. The guy can play and I think he will be a force (a Holy Force!) to be reckoned with.
It’s getting to be a crowded year with all three new supergroups, Symphonia, Fullforce and now Holy Force all vying for spots in my Top Ten for 2011. The self-titled debut by Holy Force is a textbook example (but that does not mean boring!) of how classy and exciting pure Metal can be.