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Symphorce - Truth To Promises (6,5/10) - Germany - 1999

Genre: Power Metal / Groove Metal
Label: Noise Records
Playing time: 49:58
Band homepage: Symphorce

Tracklist:

  1. Truth To Promises
  2. Drifted
  3. Wounded
  4. Retracting The Line
  5. Stronghold
  6. Across The Plains
  7. Forevermore
  8. Pouring Rain
  9. Circles Are Broken
  10. Sea Of Life  
Symphorce - Truth To Promises

SYMPHORCE is an anomaly in the Power Metal genre in that their stuff doesn’t really resemble the genre label it’s been put under. Most of their stuff tends to sound like a hybrid of PANTERA’S “Cowboys From Hell” style Power/Groove with a good helping of MACHINE HEAD brand mechanical atmosphere and NEVERMORE’S hypnotic riffing style. When you go back to the very beginning of their existence you find that the band was a bit closer to the Power Metal sound than they are now, but even on their slightly obscure debut “Truth To Promises” we find the band basically unable to maintain a consistent sound.

 

The biggest liability here is Andy Franck, who can’t seem to figure out which era of Warrell Dane’s checked past he wants to impersonate. On his better moments he has a slightly rougher edged version of the fairly steady and Geoff Tate oriented sound that Dane had with on SANCTUARY’S “Into The Mirror Black”. But unfortunate there is also a lot of crappy pseudo tough guy posturing and half assed shouts that could be found on NEVERMORE’s 90s catalog and some of MACHINE HEAD’s earlier material. And much like the vocalists of both bands, when he tries to mix shouts in with melodic passages he’s so all over the place that he literally goes from Winnipeg to Tasmania in seconds flat.

 

To the band’s credit on this particular release, most of the musical ideas on here are better than what NEVERMORE is better known for, owing mostly to them keeping one foot somewhere near the riffing style common to bands under their genre. Keyboards are employed for atmospheric effect here and there, resulting in a quasi-Progressive flavor to some of the material, but the main thing that keeps the songs moving is Stefan Bertolla, who is far superior at both soloing and riffing than Cedric Dupont is and better capable of handling all of the additional feed back noise that this sort of music always loves to employ. “Retracing The Line” all but completely steps out of the Groove box and offers up some flashy riff work and a really solid chorus. The title song also listens like a solid chunk of Speed Metal, minus that tacky sounding slap bass intro that sounds fresh out of a bad SUICIDAL TENDENCIES song. And say what you will about its simplicity, “Across The Plains” is a kick ass song and sports one of those great fanfare choruses that FREEDOM CALL pumps out constantly.

 

If these guys had spent more time writing songs like the ones just mentioned and not tried so hard to appeal to the Groove scene and simultaneously thrown in all these semi-Progressive ideas they would have had a pretty solid album on their hands. Too much noise driven nonsense with stale and redundant 3 note guitar grooves like what occupies “Wounded” and meandering quiet sections like what kicks off the beginning of “Circles Are Broken” (which sounds like a really overt PANTERA rip-off at times, by the way) just get in the way of this thing being stylistically consistent, let alone entertaining for someone expecting a Power Metal album.

 

Who this would appeal to is a bit difficult to determine since it’s basically halfway between two styles that tend not to be held in common by most who like either of the two. I could maybe rationalize blowing a few bucks on this thing in the bargain bin at your local second hand music store, but this is well out of the range of something that you should be buying for more than $6. You’ve got a few good songs here and there, which are more than what I can say for the majority of the band’s catalog, but basically the best that this band has been capable of is an average mishmash of styles that is half good and half offensive.

(Online December 21, 2008)

Jonathan Smith



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