Released: 2013, Century Media
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Come on now don’t you just want to shout “Alpha Tiger assemble”? I mean it sounds exactly like the name of an elite taskforce, possibly from the Thundercats, or maybe even some kind of ultimate Power Rangers type mechanical machine... Now I’ve said that you can see it can’t you... Don’t lie.
Talking of power - Beneath The Surface is positively crackling with the kind of heightened epicness that if dressed in garish zip-up jumpsuits could be the theme tune for such shows. Perhaps for the best then that this German five-piece have taken a more sophisticated stab at the power/speed genre - although their 80’s dress sense might suggest otherwise.
Yes, according to the band there’s some deep thinky stuff here with lyrics about politics, conspiracy theories, and aliens - but on first listen my brain just ran off with the blisters-on-blisters speed solos and filled in the rest with clichéd fantasy fairytale stuff. To be fair it’s easy to take some of the lyrics that way if you are inclined - such as on the galloping fray of ‘The Alliance’.
The intention is much clearer on ‘Beneath The Surface’ - another pummelling melodic metal offering over which Stephan Dietrich’s cut-glass vocals and highest-of-notes range soars. Many cite him as sounding like Michael Kiske (Helloween), but I also got flashes of Geddy Lee (Rush) and Tony Kakko (Sonata Arctica). The Helloween influence is definitely present in the music as well, along with inspiration from ‘traditional’ bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest.
It doesn’t really surprise me that Alpha Tiger are from a country with motorways that have no speed limit because Beneath The Surface zips between riffs and make-this-look-easy shredding as though there’s only one pedal in the car - and it’s not the brake.
It does mean that some of the tracks meld into one another a little, like ‘Along The Rising Sun’ which takes the top down and cruises along in the gears between catchy and heavy. ‘Rain’ starts out with so much saccharine sentiment that it made me want to throw up in my team-issued helmet (which would make for a good way to freak out the enemy) but it redeems itself by ramping up to video game speeds later on. However, the band do much better with their other ballad-y track - the catchy but not cutesy ‘Waiting For A Sign’ which hangs ‘Rain’ out to dry.
There’s certainly more beneath the surface of Alpha Tiger than first impressions suggest, and with growth already between this and their first album Man Or Machine I expect they’ll be assembling for a third. Now who do I talk to about the uniform?
Review by Kirsty Birkett-Stubbs