Saturday, May 3, 2014

Persuader - The Fiction Maze [2014]

With so much jostling going up front with the black and death metal genres, one quickly forgets that the reviewing business is more than just a bunch of cadaverous ghouls and satanic grimoires. Given their tumultuous nature, it can sometimes be something of a problem to keep your auditory nerves constantly inclined to this kind of music, so every now and then the ear yearns for something both more pleasant for the ear and the nose (believe me, dealing with ghouls and zombies all the time is some pretty putrescent work). When I come across Sweden's Persuader, I'm left in something of a dilemma: I don't know quite what to expect, not being acquainted with the band, but on the other hand the rather generic cover art song titles testify to a modern simplicity which for some reason obliged me draw comparisons with Sonata Arctica, Edguy and Gamma Ray prior to the actual listen - not exactly an inaccurate comparison. But if I had to cut a long story short I'd say that Persuader offers a dynamic, proggy and damnably solid power/thrash album that, despite being quite enjoyable, doesn't do much to break into the realms of originality.

To be fair I initially thought I would hate Persuader's lack of guts, but there's more juice and flavor to this damn thing than an average power/thrash recording. Besides the aforementioned similarities drawn up from more notorious acts, ''The Fiction Maze'', the group's fourth full-length, is actually on par with the latest Hellstar record, both in terms of technical prowess and thrash-oriented edginess. The production on this thing is pretty professional and well-done, giving plenty of space for the guitars, but that's not to say the drums are drowned out; they ring on their percussive dominion as a superb accompaniment to the ballistic riffs. Yes, Persuader is principally a power metal band, and a very modern one, at that. The melodies could easily attest to that dogma, with their lightspeed accuracy and viscous flow on the brickwalled guitars, but Jens Carlsson's vocals are soaring and opaque with a traditional banshee's high, though heroic voice. So, as you may imagine, the Swedes are in no shortage of epic, peripheralizing chorus sequences; memorable moments in the ''The Fiction Maze'' are in abundance. And the Swedes aren't just good ol' power. They try add as many intricacies as possible, but I still thought the progressive components of this record weren't being strained to their human limits.

That said, Persuader sounds a lot like Angra as well. In fact, ''Aqua'' was a pretty vivid representation of the roller-coaster of riffs going on here. And the list of these fuckers still don't end because in addition to all the mumbo-jumbo about epic, atmospheric choruses these guys can make some fucking awesome songs, and I'm not biased when I say that. Sure, they're generic, as though Havok and Warbringer got together in a gang fight and pounded the crap out of Dragonforce for being a bunch of tech-wanking weiners, especially with tunes like the title track or ''InSect'', but their persuasive (excuse the pun) savvy is unquestionable in forging some rocking songs. Their enticement, fortunately doesn't stop there. As I said, the Swedes try every now and then to confound the listener, and they figure, if riffs can't bludgeon 'em, is banshees can't shatter 'em, we'll use something else. And it's well that they do: ''The Fiction Maze'' flirts with modern, gimmicky power metal keyboards and synthesizers more frequently than you'd expect. Granted, these auxiliary employments do provide a bit of freshness to the schtick, like on ''InSect'' where the guitars and keyboards intertwine, but they don't have a spellbinding magical resonance to them, which probably wasn't the band's aim anyway. The album is coated with 21st century production values and modern power metal aesthetics, but the pervading emotion is straight out of the 80's, a Manowar or Crimson Glory seeking revenge in a new epoch.

No matter what you say, ''The Fiction Maze'' is catchy (though not absurdly so) and in its singular pursuit is successful in raising spirits. Not exactly a triumph of technicality and intricacy, but who would care? Certainly not me. In fact, with every listen I felt elicited deeper and deeper into the humbleness of the band against a predominant army of guitar-lickers and cheesy show-offs, so, the way ''Son of Sodom'' likes to unabashedly proclaim from the rooftops, ''all I see is what I believe''. A solid fucking effort.

Son of Sodom
Worlds Collide

Rating: 82%

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