Their Shakespearean debut "Shakespeare's Macbeth - A Tragedy In Steel" had been a good debut for this outfit around former GRAVE DIGGERs Uwe Lulis and Tomi Göttlich plus ex ANNIHILATOR drummer Randy Black, ex WARHEAD Björn Eilen and wasn't singer Michael Seifert formerly in BLACK DESTINY and XIRON? Ok, the concept had been used by JAG PANZER a bit before, but still interesting. "Born A Rebel" is their second strike and it, at least as far as I could see, does not have any such thing underneath.
Of course REBELLION still play traditional, quite German Power Metal that is absolutely rock solid. And that is the thing, it is rock solid, but it somehow lacks something special around it. Now let's look at this thing a bit more closely. It is expertly written, no doubts about that and the musicianship is impeccable. Also in Michael Seifert they have a vocalist, who is far from being one of the usual high voiced fronter, but he has a pretty rough, yet still good, voice for Power Metal, at times a real screamer.
"Born A Rebel" has turned out to be a very straight and almost "simple" album in terms of the song structures, no bombast or genre foreign influences or anything, just pure Heavy/Power Metal, mostly straight ahead, often up tempo, as the opening title track already showcases. "One For All" brings us some yet rather unusual riffing, very heavy and all, with Seifert's vocal delivery reminding me somewhat of Matt Barlow of ICED EARTH, where also the riffing is not that far away from, two very good tracks early in the album, right on.
After four more or less high voltage tracks "Dragons Fly" takes the pedal off the metal for a bit, a mid tempo stomper, which lyrically deals with the Vikings (and you all know that I have a soft spot for the whole Viking stuff), and which is followed by yet another stomper titled "Queen Of Spades". Ok, just grant me this one question, why first have four more up tempo tracks and then two mid tempoed ones in a row? And as if that was not enough yet, the following "Iron Flames" is a ballad, too!
Now I do not complain about "Iron Flames" being a ballad and even less about the quality, because it is great and never gets sappy thanks to Seifert's almost snotty voice, it is more about the balancing of the album that is not really, well, balanced to me… Especially as after that there is quite some pound added again, with "Power Of Evil" again having these underlying ICED EARTH-isms in the interaction between the heavy riffing and Seifert's rougher voice.
The lyrics, though, have been a letdown to me, after such an ambitious concept as Macbeth, we now are treated with very, very basic Metal lyrics about being a rebel, adrenaline etc, not too thrilling, if you ask me. Ok, even though I am a fan of those concept albums, I do not expect one of those every time, but this time around the lyrics are just too bland, too usual to me to really interest me in sitting down with the booklet and reading along…
Anyways, "Born A Rebel" is a very rock solid release, powerful and straight, well done overall, which at first listen sounds very inconspicuous, but during the second or third listen finally ignites and draws you in. (Online June 3, 2003)