Edition: 60
Welcome guest, today it is 2018-09-20 20:5:23 
Album reviews:
Here you'll find all album reviews sorted on publish date, descending. Latest published items are on top.

Note: We don't give a mark to: MCDs, DEMOs, Compilations and Live albums.
Page: Show all reviews

Dark Arena

01. Freedom
02. Fear Of The Night
03. Alien World
04. The Sight
05. Vicious Circles
06. Subterranean Man
07. Somewhere
08. Dark Sorrow
09. Crystallized
Does anyone remember Attaxe, or maybe Ritual? The former US-band cut a few solid demos back in the late eighties, the latter (also known as Ritual of Torment) released the underrated cd Trials of torment on the German Massacre Records label in 1993. Both bands featured vocalist Juan Ricardo, who, after a period of silence, resurfaces with Dark Arena. And a welcome comeback it is, too: the self-financed full-length debut Alien factor packs a punch or two. As you can tell from the high-pitched scream that leads straight into the opening track Freedom, Juan’s voice and singing style haven’t changed since Trials of torment. He knows his way around the higher ranges more than ever, perfectly suited to Dark Arena’s brand of progressive power metal. The cd’s quality comes as no real surprise, considering the fact that guitarist Paul Konjicija (ex-Ritual/-Attaxe, Antithesis) and bass player Brian Glodde (also from Antithesis) are among Juan’s skilled co-workers. Second guitar player is Dale Robertson and although the booklet lists ex-Ritual’s Emery Ceo as the band’s drummer, Chris Stolle is now DA’s hard hitter. Keyboard duties on these recordings were handled by Rhiannon Wisniewski, who is no longer part of Dark Arena. The band is currently looking for a pro keyboard player.
For Alien factor, Juan and Konjicija have gone out of their way to write songs with a bite: apart from the X-Files-cover (nicely done nonetheless), this is one hell of a mature debut. In a way, one could say that Dark Arena are the natural successors to Ritual’s legacy, taking the US-power metal sound into the progressive niche carved in the early nineties by bands like Mystic-Force (Keith Menser, where the hell are you?). Time changes, unpredictable interludes and intricate drum patterns are manifold on this album, although they are not there just for their own sake. Compared to Trials of torment, production is more dynamic, enhancing the powerful material as a whole. There are many intricacies to be found throughout the songs if you take the time to listen to them carefully. Drumming, especially, is extremely tight, with all kinds of little surprises thrown in.
In the somewhat uneven mix (overall sound was no doubt patched up considerably by Alex ‘Did That Testament Classic’ Perialas during the final mastering process), rhythm guitars could have been a little clearer and more up front. That being my only quibble, really: nearly all songs are on the same high quality level, with The Sight, Vicious Circles and the unrelenting Subterranean Man (terrific chorus) even standing out. Juan Ricardo – completely bald these days, by the way - gets to soar on almost every track, at times adding a raspy aggression to his clear vocals. Some of the vocal lines are daringly structured and performed. A bit of a weird track is Somewhere, which has an unusual tempo, ditto melodies, a ripping bass part somewhere halfway and a short, pleasantly seventies sounding keyboard solo. It is followed by a subtly crafted, oldfashioned interlude for two acoustic guitars, called Dark sorrow, before Dark Arena pulls out all the stops again on the closing Crystallized.
As always with excellent stuff like this, it is a bloody shame that it has to be a self-released affair: Alien factor comes as a very well-produced cd-r, albeit with a printed four-page booklet. That may p.o. a few hardline collectors, but I urge everyone into powerful metal with a technical edge and a real vocalist to check out this Ohio-based band. You can order the cd directly from Juan (follow the link on DA’s MySpace to Juan’s personal page). He also has the fine Attaxe-anthology 20 years the hard way for sale, as well as a new version of the Ritual-album (under the moniker Ritual of Torment; different song order and cover). Tell him we sent ya!

  Rating: 87 /100

Page: Show all reviews

Attacker - Giants of Canaan
Panchrysia - Massa Damnata
Void Moon - On the Blackest of Nights
Martelo Negro  - Sortilégio dos Mortos
Prototype - Catalyst
   © 2006 Design by Kasper (after_eden)