Reviewing a compilation album featuring several different bands can be a bit difficult. When several artists are involved, all of various styles and levels of quality, it is inevitable that a review will have to be written on a track-by-track basis, in essence grading each band on its own merit. So, to get to the point, a review of a compilation is not so much a review of an album, as it is a review of single tracks by individual bands.
All of the rambling aside, the “Kingdom Of Glory Volume 2” compilation from Enclave Records is quite a mixed bag, which is typically the case with comps, especially when every band featured is virtually unknown outside of its home region. The “Kingdom Of Glory” cover art is a bit misleading, as its fantasy concept immediately brings to mind Power Metal, which is not entirely accurate for this comp. There is some Power Metal to be found here, but there’s also Hard Rock, Progressive Metal and other, indefinable genres.
“Kingdom Of Glory” kicks off with Japanese band, DRAGONLANCE, performing a song of the same name. In case the band’s name didn’t tip you off, what you get is generic, keyboard-driven Power Metal of the Italian variety, only instead of having a vocalist with a thick Italian accent, you get a thick Japanese accent. Not terrible, but nothing that Underground Symphony hasn’t released a hundred times already.
Next up is “A Little Story”, from the Czech Republic’s MIMESIS. The song is keyboard-heavy hard rock, with decent female vocals and a chorus I swear I’ve heard before.
We then a get a trio of old-school Metal, starting with DANGER’s “Another Day In Life”. It could use a better production, but as it stands the track is solid Heavy Metal, powerful and with a great tempo shift midway through. We then get Austria’s FORCE, with the track “When Shadows Die”, displaying Melodic Metal with an 80s edge, but again suffering from a poor production. “Once A Bitch Always A Bitch” from Chicago’s DEADLY BLESSING sounds like it fell out of a time machine from 1984, lyrics, production and all.
Austria’s MANIAC SAINTS change things up with “Resolution”, but not necessarily for the better. The use of sequencers is annoying and the vocals are very weak, but I commend the band for trying something different. Unlike Sweden’s POWER SUPREME, who play fast, generic, guitar-driven Power Metal. Again, a better production could have made this eight-plus minute, self-titled track into so much more.
“Red Alert” from Japan’s SOLDIERS OF FORTUNE is competent, 80s-influenced Hard Rock and finally bolsters a production beyond demo level. It’s not outstanding, but pretty good. “Time Goes In By” from Sweden’s PANACEUM gets the award for most boring track of the comp, sounding like some of the radio-friendly, Pop Rock my wife fancies.
Once again, Malta’s ANGEL BLADE may have sounded excellent on “The Elven Woods” had a decent production been available. Mixing Power Metal, Gothic Metal, growly male vocals and clean mid-range female vocals, this isn’t terribly originally, but is pulled off splendidly. Unfortunately, everything kind of jumbles together, as the mix is really off. The song could also have been longer, as it abruptly ends right as I was really getting into it. However, this is the comp’s standout track and a band I will certainly watch for in the future.
Germany’s SHAPESHIFT play a heavy brand of Progressive Metal on its track “Principles”. This band could be a whole lot better with a better vocalist. This track is also criminally short and underdeveloped, at only . And, note to the band, you can be heavy without resorting to Nu Metal chugging.
I may have to take back what I said about PANACEUM earlier, as I believe Austria’s CLEAVE with its track “Distorting Pictures” is even more boring, with is Emo-esque whining. Things continue to go downhill with Italy’s LITTLE PAPERS. The band’s “You Let Me Now” sounds like mid-period MACHINE HEAD, only worse. Yikes! And Switzerland’s SOUL LINE continues the downward trend with “Burn In Eternity”, another Nu Metal-ish track that is not saved by a decent, yet sloppy guitar solo. And as if I haven’t been subjected to enough bad music, from the Netherlands comes RIVAN, with its track “Bluesshit”. Coming off like a mix of THE DOORS, METALLICA and THE WHITE STRIPES, this is, simply put, not very good.
“So Cruel” from Japan’s SEVENTH HEAVEN almost feels like a breath of fresh air after the last five tracks, with Symphonic and Melodic Metal leanings. But when taken on its own, it is simply okay. And, oh my, I should have stopped after track 16. I don’t even know how to describe “Something” from Austria’s TOUGH MOTION. Maybe something along the lines of RAMMSTEIN on maximum suckage. Just know you’ve been warned.
So there you have it, one long frickin’ review of “Kingdom Of Glory”, a comp you’ll likely never hear featuring bands you’ll likely never hear. Tracks one through ten are all pretty decent, with a few standouts, but tracks 11 through 17 should be avoided at all costs. I wonder if Enclave Records did the tracklist that way intentionally. (Online August 31, 2006)