Released: 2015, Massacre Records
The trend that started in 2014 of long dormant Power Metal bands making a return to active duty, into 2015 with continues with a few more bands including Stormwitch and Scanner both on Massacre Records. I’ve reviewed both albums this month so please enjoy both of them.
The notoriously unproductive Scanner return after a 13-year absence with only their 6th album in 30 years. THE JUDGEMENT is a bit of an uninspired choice for an album title. There are a lot of parallels to Stormwitch perhaps with only one original member left in each act and over 30 members have passed through the ranks of Scanner over the years. In this case it is founder and guitsrist, Axel Julius who has kept the band alive and not surprisingly there has been a total line-up overhaul, as the band pairs down to a quintet . Singer Lisa is gone after one album replaced by Efthimios Ioannidis ex-Levamnon. They are joined by another Levamnon alumni, guitarist, Andreas Zeilder. A new singer means that every single Scanner album has had a different singer and I feel it is harder to build a band identity and sound with the constant change in the vocalist role.
THE JUDGEMENT starts with a nice brief, instrumental introduction and then charge out of the gates with F.T.B. leading us to believe that this album is a return to form over the slightly more progressive and experimental SCANTROPOLIS from 2002. The album is the fastest and heaviest album in many years, maybe even dating back to TERMINAL EARTH. The guitars rip the vocals soar, check out the screams in the cut ‘Eutopia’! Essentially Scanner has returned to their speedy Power Metal roots and it is a very welcome return to form. It is not that the other albums were poor, they just never lived up tot the promise of the debut. The production is crisp and clear, with good guitar bite and fast drumming. Highlights include ‘The Race’ and ‘Warlord’ both among the fastest songs they have ever done.
I was really impressed by this album in terms of lyrical content. They talk about Pirates, Warlords, Legionaires, Edgar Allan Poe, greek mythology and time travel and more. The songs all have an epic, historical context. This is slightly odd when almost all of their albums have had a science-fiction or futuristic themed album art.
I’m really impressed with THE JUDGEMENT, perhaps I listened to the album with lower expectations. I’m not the only one to say it but their 1988 debut HYPERTRACE is a world-class record and they have never quite been able to recapture the glory of that iconic album. However, I feel that THE JUDGEMENT is the second best Scanner record.