Released: 1999, Pavement Music
Not long after writing last month's Classic Pick review of Racer X's Street Lethal, I decided to go to my friendly neighborhood on-line retailer and see what other CD's they had in stock from Shrapnel Records. Much to my delight, they had a disc called Project: Driver (*see "Recommended Listening" section) which I'd wanted for years but could never find. The question now was "What other disc do I order with it?" Heaven (or Hell, maybe?) forbid I order just one! I mulled over several possibilities before remembering Metalium, the side project of Savatage guitarist Chris Caffery. "Oh yeah!" I thought. I forgot to check out the clips for that one." So I typed "Metalium" into the search box, clicked the links for the sound clips, and the rest, as they say... is history.
After three weeks of not-so-patient waiting, my order finally arrived. (I was extra anxious because I'd been looking for Project: Driver since 1986!!!) I drove home, went directly to my stereo... And put on Project: Driver! Once my longtime curiosity had finally been satisfied, I proceeded on to Metalium. The disc started off with the instrumental intro "Circle of Fate", which led into the speedy, Euro-flavored opening track "Fight". "Most impressive..." I thought to myself, ...but this CD is not over yet! (To my fellow Star Wars freaks who picked up on that little reference... Greetings and salutations!) Although I had already heard some Real Audio clips from Millennium Metal, I waited to hear the whole disc before forming any opinions. The disc continued with more strong songs and a couple that weren't so strong, the standout tracks being "Break the Spell", "Void of Fire", "Free Forever", and "Strike Down the Heathen", the weakest being "Revelation." By the end, I knew I had made a wise decision in buying this CD.
Turns out the CD is also a concept album. From what I could gather from the lyrics, the story goes something like this... As the end of the millennium approaches, a young man begins having prophetic dreams and visions about a portal which will open between dimensions once it arrives. At first he dismisses them all as merely dreams but in time begins to accept them as truth. Then the millennium arrives and he has contact with the "Gods" who urge him to drink the "Metalium" elixir, causing him to literally transform into a "Metal Warrior." Then off he goes though the dimensional portal to battle the evil entities on the other side who plan on destroying the Earth. The storyline is supposed to carry over onto the next CD, much like the ongoing Iron Savior saga. And in addition to the twelve concept tracks, there are two bonus tracks as well... A rather metalized cover of Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" and a rock 'n roll tune called "Burning." I have no idea who did that song originally and the credits aren't listed in the booklet, but when I listen to it I can't help but think of Boston (the band, not the city).
Although Metalium is being promoted as a Chris Caffery project, Chris only co-wrote three of the albums tracks. The real brains behind Metalium are bassist Lars Ratz, guitarist Matthias Lange, and drummer Mike Terrana, who wrote the bulk of the material. Unfortunately, according to the band's website http://www.metalium.de
, Terrana has left the band due to health problems and has been replaced by Caffery's Doctor Butcher cohort, John Osbourne.
Cheesy storyline aside, this is very good CD. Quality material, excellent musicianship, and an impressive vocal performance from newcomer Henning Basse. So now I'm hoping the world doesn't blow up at the end of the year because I'd really like to hear Millennium Metal: Chapter Two.