Hard Rock and Metal may will be going through a mini renaissance with THE DARKNESS spear heading the charge into UK households but for all intents Justin and the boys are just KISS and QUEEN wannabes whose future will do well to last past album number two.
In the meantime, down in the trenches are the future of UK Rock and Metal. Just as the early 80’s brought forth the NWOBHM (and the giants that came from it) the year 2004 could well be a defining moment in the history of UK Metal.
Whereas Europe and the USA have multitudes of excellent to average to atrocious Power Metal bands, the UK has lagged somewhat far behind. Try and name a decent Power Metal band from the UK that has made the impact like ICED EARTH or HAMMERFALL and I am afraid MAIDEN and the PRIEST are going to head many fans’ lists.
For a country that brought forth the beast that is Heavy Metal we’ve neglected and pandered to the whims of mainstream commerciality and as a result, Europe has bounded ahead and left the UK going backwards. The music press would rather lambaste and criticize Power Metal in the UK and if you are an aspiring British Power Metal band then forget it.
With the likes of DRAGONFORCE, POWER QUEST and BIOMECHANICAL turning out some damn fine Metal music to rival even the best of Europe and the USA all is looking good (at last) for the burgeoning UK Power Metal scene.
So where does this leave INTENSE? Relative new comers to the fray can they raise the ante and produce the goods? One listen to ‘’Second Sight’’ is all you will need to convince you that the Brits are coming with Metal stronger than steel.
‘’Second Sight’’ will no doubt be dubbed strictly old fashioned and out dated by the ever fickle UK music press but to European and US fans fed a diet of HAMMERFALL, EIDOLON, CANDLEMASS, GAMMA RAY, SHADOWS FALL and ICED EARTH this will be greatly received.
At its base level ‘’Second Sight’’ is a sure and steady Power Metal album. You’ll not hear much originality but when the convection is so apparent and the belief so strong then to hell with originality lets Rock!
Swirling keyboard opener ‘’Premonition’’ dies off into a quite ferocious riff from guitarists Palmer and Peak on ‘’One Twenty’’ and the cards are laid on the table for all to hear. Vocalists and main man Sean Hetherington delivers strong, power house vocals in the Matt Barlow range and other band members, Neil Ablard and Adrian Lambert, add the bottom end weight with a tight controlled rhythm attack.
From then on it’s full cruise control Power Metal. INTENSE mix power, force and speed with a mature ear for creating brooding pieces of classic Heavy Metal. Stand out tracks include the mighty ‘’War Of Angels’’ and ‘’Path Of The Dark’’ both shadowing the mighty ICED EARTH in sound and epic ness. ‘’Seeds Of Betrayal’’ is a timely reminder of how good ONSLAUGHT where with ‘’Welcome To Dying’’ and ‘’Skull Of Sidon’’ is just homage to MAIDEN. All utterly glorious stuff.
All that’s left to say is that if you are a Power Metal fan then INTENSE and ‘’Second Sight’’ should be high on your next CD shopping trip. You’d be daft to let this one get by you. (Online May 23, 2004)