On their first album, “Shadows Of Reality“, ZANDELLE had still been a pure US Metal band, then they signed their deal with MP and added some influences from the European styles, which still sounded great. After two good albums with that label, which obviously had left its impression on the Americans’ sound, that deal was done, though.
Now ZANDELLE are sailing under Pure Steel’s flag and they fit. Even though “Flames Of Rage” is very variable, everything (despite keyboards) can definitely be labelled as pure steel indeed. Only the originality seems to have crawled into a hole and is hiding well. They take their elements from GAMMA RAY/BLIND GUARDIAN/PRIEST/ICED EARTH/MANOWAR, which most traditionally orientated Metal bands do, but as long as we get such gripping songs – so what! Baffling is the very wide range of George Tsalikis, whose voice I remember as being more powerful in the past, though. Reminds me a lot of Kai Hansen or am I off? Okay, the Euro Metal influences are still there, but they are not in the way. Overall everything is a little more progressive than what we are used to, but the album will explode soon enough, especially the very inspired guitar work has to be pointed out. An absolute masterpiece is closing 20-minute epos “Eradicated Existence” – pure goosebumps.
Overall a real grower, with a weak point in the production department, which sounds very raw and a little mushy, but I prefer this to any of those sterile and interchangeable plastic productions.
(Online May 6, 2011)