Released: 2017, M-&-O music
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Russian outfit Pokerface have returned to the thrash scene with the follow up to their 2015 album Divide and Rule with a brand new album entitled Game On. The band, born in Moscow in 2013, has gone through several line-up changes over the years, but they have never stopped working hard at what they do, at perfecting their style of thrash-cum-heavy metal. After four years of effort, Pokerface have finally crystallized their unique style.
It’s clear from the opening bars of the first track that the time the band spent away from the studio, on tour with the likes of Children of Bodom; Sepultrua and Sodom, as well as all the appearances they’ve put in on the festival circuit, has given the band time to refine their sound for a more modern day take on the old-school thrash metal genre. The addition of new vocalist Alexandra ‘Owl’ Orlova has lent a nice touch of death metal to their sound. It’s clear from her vocal style that she looks up to, and to some degree tries to emulate, powerful frontwomen like Angela Gossow. Over the last few years, more and more female fronted bands have been coming through, and it’s good to see. Not just because of the gender equality, but also because they are capable of pulling off songs that the deeper, lower-pitched voices of male frontmen can’t handle.
The first single, The Fatal Scythe, really opens your ears to just how well the new vocals blend with the guitar riffs of Xen Ritter and blast beats of Doctor to create a very intense sound that they manage to keep up throughout the album. This album really grows on you the more you listen to it, I found that I noticed little things the second and third playthroughs that I didn’t notice the first time. Equally impressive was just how well paced each track is - each song has you getting into it more and more, but at the same time ends leaving you only wanting more.
The strongest track on the album was Straight Flush; it was the first track where they experimented with a different sound. It has a slightly slower tempo, which waxes and wanes throughout the song. There is some excellent drum work to be found too.
When Creepy Guests comes in, it’s got the typical thrash pace, and in my opinion, it’s where Orlova’s strongest performance on the album is given, where her vocal range and power really shine through. Added to this is the band’s occasional use of melody and everything blends together to give the track what it needs to really stand out from the rest of the album.
There are elements on a lot of the tracks that help it move along at a fast pace, though I would say that if there was one criticism of this album to be made, it would be that they tend to open on very similar sounding riffs. It doesn’t take much away from the album, but I think that one of the few ways they could have improved Game On would have been to show a little more creativity in the way each song opened, to have given each song its own unique style and individuality.
This album shows such heart, such eager determination, and really showcases how much they’ve progressed since their debut with a name that brings one of Lady Gaga’s most famous hits to mind. With Game On, Pokerface have made a definitive statement, set out their stall in outstanding fashion, and declared that we should strap in because we’re in for one hell of a ride.
Reviewed By Luke Smith