Fireleaf - Behind the Mask - (7.5/10)
Published on April 8, 2016
Formed just last year, Fireleaf emerges from their Stuttgart, Germany home-town base with an impressive roster leading their brand of fiery German-tinged power metal to the fullest. Spearheaded by ex-Stormwitch members Ralf Stoney and Micha Kasper, along with several local friends and former band-members, this blast of powerful and high-quality power metal lands on February 19 from Massacre Records.
As with most of these German power metal acts, there’s a strong heavy-metal base on display here that wraps itself through most of the work here. Strong, powerful and simplistic riffing based on thudding chug-patterns which make for a solid base here to extend outward for a healthy sprinkling of power metal melodies into the fray, much like what occurs with efforts like “Bloody Tears” and “Isolation,” providing this with plenty of steady influence throughout the album. Though this tends to come off nicely enough for most of the album, there’s the fact that most of the album seems to be stuck in tempos and paces that don’t show off that kind of work as often as it should. This is the main element that really keeps this one from where it should be as it’s quite slow-going far more often than not as in efforts like “Monsterman” and “The Quest,” keeping this one feeling sluggish and chugging-based rather than really letting the speed get shown off. It’s not surprising that the faster tracks showing off their style are the album’s best efforts, so when it strays to the slower tempos there’s a noticeable shift in quality.
While that might not be the most encouraging aspect of this one, the fact remains that a lot of what really works on the album comes from stand-out singer Bastian Rose. A huge deal of the credit for the overall enjoyment of the album comes from his powerful wails crooning effortlessly over numerous tracks throughout here, from “Faceless” and “King of Madness” where the enjoyment is ratcheted up solely because of his stellar vocals, or merely adding to the atmosphere like he does in “Death Throes” and “Isolation” to get a little more out of the song itself despite the rest of the material around him already being rock solid.
Considering the star-power behind this one, it might be considered somewhat of a disappointment as it’s a little sluggish and slow-going, but when it lets loose there’s a lot to like here in terms of the great melodies and riff-work featured here which easily makes this a solid choice for traditional German power metal or Euro-flavored heavy metal in general.