A review of Metalium's Platinum Edition: Millennium Metal - Chapter One / State of Triumph - Chapter Two / Hero Nation - Chapter Three
Millennium Metal - Chapter One (1999)
Metalium's debut record was a commercial success and stood for the comeback of an entire genre towards the end of the nineties and first years of the new millennium. The group went on to offer eight chapters of its epic saga before calling it quits after thirteen years of existence. Millennium Metal: Chapter One is one of the band's best entries and the only one involving Savatage's guitarist Chris Caffery and drummer Mike Terrana who has played in so many bands that it's impossible to keep track of them.
Musically, the band offers an energetic mixture between traditional heavy metal, European power metal and occasionalsSpeed metal influences. The record's first half is quite entertaining. "Fight" is an energetic power metal song with a thunderous rhythm section, fast guitar riffs and powerful high-pitched vocals. "Dream of Doom" is much slower, more melodic and oozes with an ominous atmosphere somewhere between mid-paced heavy metal and minimal gothic and doom metal influences. "Break the Spell" on the other side is classic heavy metal in the key of Judas Priest which is probably the band that sounds closest to them. If you like the material Judas Priest recorded with Tim Owens, you are certainly going to appreciate this album.
One element that has always annoyed me about this record are the cringeworthy radio play elements, consisting of vapid monologues and boring one-liners offered by the story's hero whose voice sounds so low that one could imagine his testicles weighing a ton each. The overall solid album also loses some steam after a strong beginning and especially the second half is lacking punch despite solid musicianship and a few solid tunes like the elaborate "Metamorphosis" that connects the first and the second part and the epic closer and band hymn "Metalians".
In the end, I would recommend this album to those who are looking for a record situated between traditional heavy metal and epic power metal. The release is diverse and entertaining but not every song is convincing and the radio play elements sound idiotic. Metalium's release was on the pulse of its time twenty years ago but is slightly overrated in hindsight. Still, fans of the aforementioned genres should give this record a try.
Final rating: 75%
State of Triumph - Chapter Two (2000)
Almost exactly one year after its successful debut release, German-American heavy and power metal quintet Metalium comes around with another full length effort. This is even more astonishing considering the fact that one of the guitarists and the drummer left the band. The new guy behind the kit is Marc Cross who was known to few people back then but who would end up playing drums for power metal heavyweights Helloween and Firewind later on in his career. New guitarist is Jack frost who was briefly involved in Savatage like his predecessor and who is most known for his work with Seven Witches nowadays.
Even though the band remained faithful to its mixture of traditional heavy metal and vibrant power metal, there are a few significant changes that keep the second output very intriguing.
First of all, the production is a little bit mellower than the aggressive and energetic predecessor which gives the record a more epic and melodic touch which suits the ambitious lyrical concept.
Secondly, the album uses much more additional keyboards than before to give the release a more atmopsheric and almost cinematic vibe without sounding too cheesy or fluffy.
Thirdly, the annoying narrative parts involving the stereotypical male protagonist have been reduced and a female voice offers some more narration now. Speaking of female voices, this album has a few more backing vocals, involving five women who contributed choirs to this release.
Fourthly, the song writing has become more epic and progressive as the eleven songs featured here are much longer than the thirteen tracks plus hidden coda from the first strike. The tracks offer more dynamic changes and are overall quite ambitious without sounding overloaded or tiring.
Another noteworthy element is that this album kicks off somewhat slowly but ends on a high note as opposed to the predecessor. The fast, melodic and vibrant "Stygian Flames" is an absolute highlight while the closing title track "State of Triumph" is as epic as it gets with melancholic piano sounds, massive choirs and narrative passages that almost make this song sound like a metal opera without any classical music watering it down.
Metalium's State of Triumph is a grower. The tracks are less intense than those from the predecessor at first contact but the material is more atmospheric, epic and mature and opens up with every spin. It's a release that requests attention, patience and time but ends up rewarding the listener. Despite being less commercially successful than the predecessor, State of Triumph is a respectable progress for the epic power metal quintet that has found its own style here and moved away from copying heavy metal veterans.
Final rating: 80%
Hero Nation - Chapter Three (2002)
After its second album, Metalium went through changes again since American guitarist Jack Frost and British drummer Mark Cross left the band. Metalium decided to stick to only one guitarist as the quintet became a quartet. Michael Ehré became the new man behind the kit and would later on play with Uli John Roth, Gamma Ray and The Unity. The international project became a German band and this line-up would remain quite stable for the next few years. However, this stability would harm the band, making it more repetitive and less relevant.
The band's third output Hero Nation still desperately tries to add some diversity. It features an epic symphonic ballad called "Infinite Love" inspired by William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet where main vocalist Henning Basse performs a stunning duet with classically trained award-winning singer Carolin Fortenbacher.
The epic "Fate Conquered the Power" features a keyboard performance by Ken Hensley of former Uriah Heep fame and a guitar solo by Primal Fear's and Sinner's Tom Naumann.
Donald Airey, previously known for his works with Ozzy Osbourne and Rainbow and later on Deep Purple, plays on four different tracks, including the atmospheric, creative and dynamic power ballad "Odin's Spell" which is the best song on this album along with "Infinite Love".
However, the numerous guest musicians can't hide the fact that the song writing on this release is much weaker than on the two predecessors. The band seems to be lost between the energy of the first record and the epic direction of the sophomore output. However, most songs are neither aggressive enough to compete with the debut nor elaborate enough to equal the quality of the second release. Especially the first half of this release offers traditional heavy metal by the numbers with lackluster power metal elements. There are no choruses, rhythms or solos that will get stuck in your mind.
In the end, Hero Nation is interesting for its numerous guest musicians and a few experiments but most songs sound bland and uninspired. While the band's first two records should equally appeal to heavy and power metal fans, the third release won't please either side and is slightly above average at best. It's the first sign of a slow descent for Metalium.
Final rating: 65%« Treibjagd (2017) - Elevated number of victims and plot holes - 5/10 (01/01/19)Anarchy in Japan - A review of 冥無幻妖、「忌み双児」's 羽狭 (Hazama) »
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