Released: 2000, Independent
Reviewer: Michael De Los Muertos
How come I never get tired of classic power metal? You’d think with the sheer volume of it that dominates my CD player, I’d eventually get my fill of it. Sometimes – not often, mind you, but sometimes – I even think that perhaps there’s not that much more out there. Thankfully, every time a new band like Phoenix Rizing, or an album like ETERNAL CRUSADE, comes along, I’m proven wrong. There’s more power metal out there than you could hear in a lifetime – but I hope to make excellent headway before I finally head off to Valhalla myself!
This band has all the basics of good Euro power metal: galloping choruses, double-bass mania, clean vocals, swords n’ sorcery, the whole nine yards. Luckily Phoenix Rizing has the one element a good power metal band needs to succeed: energy! You won’t hear too much on the eleven tracks of this album that is truly groundbreaking, but you’ll hear some very good stuff that won’t disappoint. The album is bookended by its two best tracks, “Hail to the Ancient,” the first, and “Out In The Endless Space,” the closer, which is simply glorious. Catchy melody, a fast-moving tempo, and sing-along choruses dominate both of these excellent tracks. That being said, there are still plenty of great tracks yet to come, including “Awake The Spirit Within,” “Dragonlord” and the very traditional, fist-in-the-air, almost HammerFall-esque anthem “Where Even Shadows Fear to Tread.” All of it is very solid, and Phoenix Rizing are obviously very comfortable to rest in the most conservative, traditional “middle class” of European power metal. They seem to know they will never quite be Helloween or Edguy, but they’re still willing to give it their all, and their effort is richly rewarded from the results of this album.
Still, they’re not perfect. The vocalist is not as versatile or as operatic as he would ideally be if this was a band the caliber of Edguy or Helloween. Also, the synthesizer borders on being overused, and I find its constant tone – a tinny techno-sounding, almost 80s-retro tone – somewhat bland. These issues did not seriously detract from my enjoyment of the album, however. On balance, Phoenix Rizing are a strong, fun, enjoyable power metal band.
This band will not make any converts from the crowd who denounce power metal in general as “unoriginal” or “weak.” In that sense, ETERNAL CRUSADE is made primarily for die-hard aficionados of the genre. But if you do appreciate power metal, you’re in for quite a treat. I highly recommend this album, and raise my sword to Phoenix Rizing!