When I first heard Progressive Power Metal, I was a little concerned about how it would be. I never thought such a genre existed. My curiosity grew and so I decided to get something related to it. I borrowed "Immortal" from a friend and the first thing, before the music or anything else, was the voice of Matt Barlow - the former ICED EARTH singer who finished his retirement to join this band.
PYRAMAZE sound great. Not only is it surprising that I have never been around this style, but so it is how they manage to get you hooked by a powerful tune that gets your attention and because of it, you just can't stop listening. Barlow had no problem getting used to the style. Even if you consider that he was part of a Power Metal band with more aggressiveness and strength in their performance, PYRAMAZE certainly does a good job taking advantage of Matt’s voice. He shows how multitalented he can be when it comes to styles and brings more emotion and effect to the singing. He shows that his style is not defined by the genre and brings great performances with his unique voice.
Michael Kammeyer has a lot of style. He is not very spectacular but he can get the job done. His riffs are great and the rest of the members deliver a very unique presentation for this particular genre. A very interesting perspective for a Power Metal band. It's not as spectacular as BLIND GUARDIAN or as fast as STRATOVARIUS. I would say that it is a methodic and well-balanced production that has a great use of its vocal and musical capabilities; along with this great combination, the melodic works give an extra feeling to the songs.
But this album is not perfect. If you analyze the tracks properly, you will notice that background music and Barlow's vocals are forced at some point to stand out in the production. Every song puts a lot of weight to Matt Barlow, as if the producer wanted this album to succeed based on Matt's name and voice.
Why do I perceive this?
At some moments, you feel like you are listening to an ICED EARTH album. You will realize that some riffs are very similar to some of Jon Schaffer’s; mainly in the first songs, “Year of the Phoenix” and “Ghost Light." You might also think that the musicians are just “filling the spaces” with their performances.
The performance is great but they play like they didn’t want to cast a shadow with Matt’s voice. Plus, the background music (harmonies, pianos, and all the classic atmosphere) seems to be used with no balance, reaching a point where some of the songs nearly sound like Melodic Metal tunes. If they had reached a good balance with this composition, the album would’ve sounded heavier and, of course, would have reached a better level of acceptance among other fans.
Even though the balance in the songs is not perfect, the overall album is great with this feature. Fast-paced, greatly composed tunes along with some slower power ballads bring a very enjoyable experience.
Let’s see what the future will bring to PYRAMAZE since Matt has returned to ICED EARTH. Taking away his shadow might be easier if they can work for the band and not for the singer. I think everyone that likes Power Metal won’t be disappointed with tunes like “Shadow of the Beast” (my personal favorite) that will be enjoyed not only by Power Metal and ICED EARTH fans, but by every metal fan looking for a different experience that won’t disappoint.
(Online October 31, 2010)