Friday, December 19, 2014

#9 of my Top 12 Albums of 2014: The Fiction Maze

Persuader's The Fiction Maze

Release Date: January 21st, 2014
Label: Inner Wound Recordings
Genre: Power Metal

     Some may complain and say "Oh, this was technically released LAST year in late December!" To them I have two reasons why I can validate putting this on my list for this year: for one, it was released in the United States in January of this year while it was released earlier in Japan in 2013, but since I am American, I am going by the North American release dates; for two, even if I went by the Japan release date, it was released after I posted my Top 12 for last year, so anything made after that point is fair game for me.  Anyway, Persuader.  Persuader is one of those bands that gets the label "Blind Guardian clone," though almost every time that phrase is thrown around, it really has no weight since even similar bands to Blind Guardian have very different elements to them.  However, with Persuader.... it is kind of an adequate description.  But really, if you are compared to Blind Guardian, that can only ever be a compliment, given Blind Guardian's immense fame and influence.  Also, considering Blind Guardian does not release albums very often, the last one being released in 2010 and their next one is planned for next year, 2015.

     Persuader came to the public eye, and mine as well, with the release of When Eden Falls in 2006, which was their 3rd album, and since then, we have not heard much of anything from the band.  Around the time of the release of that album, a few of the members actually formed Savage Circus, another very underrated Power Metal band with a similar sound as Blind Guardian, which at least makes more sense since the group was formed with a member of Blind Guardian as well.  But you may be asking, "Well, what does Persuader have to offer that other bands, particularly the one comparison they always get, Blind Guardian, does not have?"  What Persuader offers is a brand of Power Metal that is a tad more aggressive than most, incorporating more harsher vocals than many similar artists, as well as being one of the few consistently good Power Metal acts still producing music.

"The Fiction Maze"

     The above title track offers a great representation of what you'll find in this album: great aggressive in-your-face riffs, pounding drums that can even humble some of the greatest drummers ever to sit on the stool, and addictive and powerful vocals that physically make you grow a mighty man-beard, even if your female. Warning: Man-Beard is not optional when listening to Persuader.  That is not to say that Persuader does not know how to tone things down when necessary, as the next song immediately following the title track, "Deep in the Dark," is more of a contemplative song, speaking of those "fallen," those that have been consumed by the darkness, literally using the allusion of fallen angels from heaven.  That is not to say that it is a ballad, but is a much more emotional track, and the acoustic bookmarks on the song help push that perspective in comparison to their other more lively tracks, like the one above.  "Heathen" is another slower track on The Fiction Maze that falls closer to power ballad territory, though to be honest, when Jens Carlsson, the intense vocalist of Persuader, uses his same vocals on these slower tracks as he does for the more upbeat ones, sometimes the emotion is lost.  Imagine a Christmas ballad playing, nice and serene, and then Macho Man Randy Savage comes in and starts yelling "Jingle Bells" in his characteristic fashion.  Hearing Jens is kind of similar, as he does not let up the intensity much at all throughout the album, one of the only complaints I have about the album at all.


     Basically, I adore The Fiction Maze.  It is easily one of the best Power Metal albums put out this year, and trust me, there were a lot, most of which I listened to.  Considering Power Metal is my favorite genre period, I sifted through about 60 or so Power Metal albums released this year, looking for stand-out efforts, and there were a considerable number of solid albums, but Persuader stood out for me as one of the most memorable.  I would constantly want to go back and feel the intensity of Jens Carlsson, who is easily one of the best vocalists in the Power Metal business, and hear those fantastic riffs, even the instrumental track "Dragon Rising," which isn't a technically impressive track with overly/unnecessarily complicated riffs like some bands (cough cough Dragonforce cough cough), but it is a very nice and memorable melody.  Really, that is what the entire album boils down to: memorable melodies with empowering vocals that make you want to get up on a table swinging a sword and singing like a madman.  For me, that is all I need in a good Power Metal album, a genre about over-the-top elements and empowerment.  Check it out if any of this interests you, or if you are a fan of 70's and 80's metal, you'll find something to enjoy here, I am sure.

"One Lifetime"

Click here for Persuader's official website.
Click here for Persuader's official Facebook page.
Click here to buy The Fiction Maze on iTunes.
Click here to buy The Fiction Maze on Amazon.

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