MOB RULES is very much a thinking man’s Power Metal band, not so much because of any extravagant fits of Progressive musical development, technical flair, speed, or even lyrical intricacy, but more so for the weighty subject matters that they delve into. The retro-styled simplicity of their debut “Savageland” was no exception, as they’ve managed to take a story not all that different from “The Road Warrior” and turn it more towards a deeper, heavily philosophical statement of the dual nature of man. Since then they’ve become a bit more journalistic and cynical in their outlook on album concepts, but the same sense of proactive storytelling remains, both lyrically and musically.
“Radical Peace” is essentially a further development on the measured balance of old school Heavy Metal and Progressive Rock heard on “Ethnolution A.D.”, but without the stylistic confusion that dragged down said album. There are no half-hearted ballads or meandering musical afterthoughts filling out the space in between the 6 part musical epic and the close of the album, only a continual helping of solid, straight up metallic goodness. Things are generally upper-mid tempo, but a bit more guitar oriented than they were on the last couple albums. The lead work of Sven Lüdke, in particular, has a bit more flash and flair than it on the previous release, and far more technical than Fuhlhage’s contributions to the band in the past, though remaining quite subdued and short in comparison to most in the genre.
Though quite comparable to the last album, the break down of the songwriting is about on the other side of things as they could possibly be. “Children Of The Flames” and “Astral Hand” prove against the expectation of another complete domination of the album by the longer epic that the strength here is on the outer extremities at the beginning and the end. The beautiful blend of NWOBHM influenced riffs, dense vocal and keyboard sounds, rock solid rhythm section and instantly familiar yet original melodic composition on these songs just wins out against the ambitious ideas at play on the “2112” inspired multi-track song found here. Nonetheless, MOB RULES’ own musical insight into the Kennedy assassination on “The Oswald File” is a formidable endeavor, though it relies a lot more on extended instrumental sections than on epic lyrical deliveries out of Klaus Meine, whose vocal work tends to be just a tiny bit too reserved throughout much of this album.
Ultimately “Radical Peace” gets the job done in the way that “Ethnolution A.D.” could have if it had been more consistent. Had a few more driving riff monsters like “Trial By Fire” and “Waiting For The Sun” had been on the latter instead of a potpourri of Modern Rock experiments, it would have been a stronger album than both this one and “Among The Gods”. I’m still partial to the band’s older, pure Power Metal sound before the symphonic tendencies started creeping in and the keyboards began fighting the guitars for prominence rather than complimenting them, but this is a worthy pickup for anyone looking for a less technically oriented alternative to COMMUNIC and a more mature and measured answer to the wide array of HELLOWEEN enthusiasts populating the German scene.
(Online March 29, 2010)