From amidst what is becoming Canada’s heavy metal hotspot (Quebec) comes Hanker with their new CD SNAKES AND LADDERS. This release, Hanker’s third, was delayed for what seemed forever considering this was recorded at Phase One Recording Studios, Toronto, Canada in April/May 1999!!! Finally it’s out and yes, the wait was worth it. Musically continuing onward from where the last CD, THE DEAD RINGER, left off with rich new melodies and stronger songs, Hanker have put out their best work to date.
This CD didn’t totally grab me on first listen. That’s why I am reviewing it a little later than I had planned. The song structures are not basic, nor is the music. It’s something that takes more than 2-3 listens to render a valid opinion on. The sound quality of this release is their best yet, even though the “crunch” factor on the mix has been turned down a notch. After about ten or so listens, the awesome brilliance of this CD began to sink in. “Ad Patres” begins the CD and it is easily the most memorable song on here. The chorus will have you singing along after only a listen or two. “Far From The Cradle” has a very cool guitar riff on the intro and the chorus on this one is where you can make the comparison to Blaze Bailey’s (ex-Iron Maiden) vocals. Pascal Cliche’s vocals are however much more varied and his range is quite impressive. He usually sings in the midrange and belts out the occasional piercing scream for effect. “On The Verge of Tears” is another of the CD’s stronger moments featuring some great soloing with back-to-back lead breaks over some speedy double kicks. The solo ends with volume swells on the guitar that caught my ear. “Fool’s Paradise” is an entirely finger picked acoustic track showing a different side to the band which fits in nicely on the album. “The Eternal Struggle” follows up the acoustic track and at the beginning I am hearing their Iron Maiden influence. It begins acoustically then slowly builds up with some incredible drum fills…this song also has the galloping rhythms…ahhh yes, this is classic metal at it’s best. The song clocks in at just over eight minutes and is one of the more “epic” tracks on the album. Why doesn’t everyone know about this band? Why won’t some bigger metal label snatch them up? This is some truly inspired stuff that ANY fan of classic metal and power metal without the frills will love! There is not a bad song on here or anything to complain about except for the band’s lack of exposure to the world.
Hanker’s brand of true metal mixed with NWOBHM riffing puts them into the power metal sub-genre for some. To me this album is more so just an awesome heavy metal offering. Be sure to check out Hanker’s webpage at www.hankermetal.com where you can also order their CD’s!!!
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