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Released: 1988, Noise Records
Classic Pick Of The Month
Scanner are a German Power Metal band that I’ve discovered only very recently. I noticed that a couple of people who share my taste in Metal had mentioned them on the Metal-Rules.com message board, so I did a little searching and found a couple of song samples at the Noise Records website. Needless to say, I was quite impressed and ordered both HYPERTRACE and TERMINAL EARTH from HMV right away. After receiving the CD’s a week or so later, it was easy to see why the people who liked Scanner liked them so much... They RULE! (I’ve since ordered their two most recent albums, MENTAL RESERVATION and BALL OF THE DAMNED... Can’t wait for them to arrive!)
Prior to becoming Scanner, the band was known as Lion’s Breed and had recorded an album called DAMN THE NIGHT in 1986 under that name (an album I must track down since discovering this bit of information...), but were forced to change it in early 1988 after finding out that another band of the same name also existed. So with the release of HYPERTRACE a little later that year, the band got the rare opportunity of debuting for a second time.
HYPERTRACE is a sci-fi concept album (The catalyst for the Iron Savior saga, possibly?) centering around a WWII era criminal who has been genetically enhanced through military experimentation in hope of creating the "perfect soldier". But when the experiments fail and he and the six other subjects turn on their creators, they are captured and placed inside rockets designed to explode a few minutes after launch (You’d think a bullet in the head and incinerating the corpse would be sufficient, wouldn’t you???). Anyway, six of the rockets explode but the seventh fails and hurtles into space to drift forever. The genetically enhanced guy who makes it into space (who is dubbed "Scanner") is discovered by a group of extraterrestrial wizards who teach him a new respect for life. Scanner then sets out to create androids which he will send to various points in time throughout Earth’s 20th Century in an attempt to alter history and create an ideal society, thus ensuring mankind’s survival.
Okay, so it sounds like a bad episode of The Outer Limits or something, but who cares? The music kicks ass! Sounding like an early, less-polished Gamma Ray with a few other influences, Scanner deliver some of the best Power/Speed Metal of the past fifteen years. From the opening notes of "Warp 7" to the closing notes of "Wizard Force", HYPERTRACE is sure to put a smile on the face of any Power Metal fan. Parts of the album do sound a little "dated", but this is mostly due to the lack of modern-day double bass techniques and the overall production. The production isn’t bad by any means, it just has that ‘80's feel to it... Which, in my opinion, is not a bad thing at all considering how much progress Metal made as a genre during that time.
Unfortunately, Scanner has only released three albums since HYPERTRACE and with each album there has been line up changes leaving only guitarist Axel Julius as the last original member. But despite the numerous member changes, Scanner’s sound has remained focused and progressed quite admirably. It’s a mystery that these guys never got the recognition they deserve, especially given the "Metal boom" of the past few years. With any luck, someone at some record company will pick them up and promote them properly so they’ll finally get to enjoy the success that’s eluded them for so many years.
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