Power Metal - IX (2010)
Reviewed by Sebastian Kluth
So you guys think you know Power Metal? Maybe that’s the case for the genre, but probably not for the criminally underrated band of the same name. This formation is one of the most important metal bands in Southeast Asia, and has been around since 1986. The band has released nine studio records as well as several compilations, live records and split releases thus far. Their last studio effort from 2010 is fittingly entitled IX, and features nine songs sung in Indonesian, as well as an instrumental track, which clock in at a total length of forty-three minutes.
On this release, the band is stylistically situated somewhere between hard rock balladry, Japanese Visual Kei elements, and melodic power metal. To my surprise, this more commercial and contemporary record features many more hard rock and Visual Kei influences than metal elements. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but IX feels bit mellow and directionless, and must be considered as one of the more forgettable releases from the band.
Power Metal opens the record with the strangest track. “Sang Waktu” starts with a few beefy riffs and weird hoarse screams that make me think of some really bad melodic death metal bands. The track then shifts toward a more traditional heavy/power metal style with twin guitar parts, an epic and dark atmosphere, but somewhat forgettable clean vocals. The band employs a few surprising elements here and there in the form of circus music-inspired passages featuring hysterical piano melodies. In the end, the track sounds like an odd mixture of Helloween, In Flames, and UneXpect. The different sections are creative, though horrifying due to the awful screams, but they don’t really fit together. The song-writing feels rather random, after all, and the track itself is much too short to lend the different stylistic passages enough space to shine.
After such a furious opener, the band calms things down way too much with the slow-paced piano track “Keyakinaku”, which makes me think of an average X Japan ballad of the nineties. The orchestral middle part is overwhelmingly bombastic and feels so exaggerated that it’s almost mildly amusing. It’s like one of Manowar’s more recent and failed attempts at creating soundtrack-inspired epic “true” metal.
The third song, “Hidup”, introduces us to the third kind of song on this record. It’s a melodic mid-to-up-tempo power metal track of European style with a catchy, liberating, and positive chorus. This is where the band really honors its name. The vocals fit in much more with this kind of song than with the first two tracks, and sound suddenly charismatic, with a slightly hypnotizing and mysterious tone brought on by emotional melodies and grounded energy. If you like bands such as Rhapsody Of Fire, Helloween, Edguy, or the band’s Indonesian colleagues from Lord Symphony, chances are that you are going to dig this kind of music.
Most of the other songs offer a mixture of these first three tracks, with a focus on hard rock ballads and Visual Kei stylistics. There is a lot of hit and miss on this record. “Satu Jiwa” is a powerful and fast power metal song with a dark atmospheric break in the middle that adds a slightly symphonic and soundtrack-infused touch to the record. Another highlight is definitely the melodic instrumental closer “Ninth Sense”, which is stylistically situated somewhere between heavy, power, and progressive metal. However, the band also suffers musical diabetes in form of the too-sweet ballad “Ayah”, that comes around with stereotypical child choirs and even a horrible out-of-tune male child vocal performance towards the end.
In the end, IX is an entertaining record, but it’s not very convincing. Half of the songs are good, average tracks that would be interesting enough to sit through the entire album, while the other half consists of exchangeable ballads or old-fashioned power metal songs. The album is okay, but nothing more, and you should instead start with a release from the early days to get to know one of the most popular bands in Southeast Asia. Those who are looking for a decent power metal release from the same region should definitely go with the latest record from Lord Symphony.
3.0 // 5