Two years ago MEDUZA were my breakthrough with Swedish neoclassical Metal, after MAJESTIC or also STORMWIND never gave me much. “Now And Forever” had not only been crowned by a strong cover by Kristian Wåhlin, but also had been musically strong. Now the Swedish quintet is back with “Upon The World” and the question arises, if they manage to keep me attracted still…
Compared to the debut the band has grown with keyboarder Joakim Floke and the cover is by far not as appealing as before, but apart from tat they have stayed pretty true to themselves, only sounding a bit more earthy at times than on “Now And Forever“. My first impression of “Upon The World“ unfortunately had not been as convincing as on the debut.
But one should not give too much on the first impression, but rather give it more chances to see, if it might grow, which “Upon The World” did without a doubt. The riffy opener “Design For Life“ is a good example fort his, at first it seemed a bit too unspectacular, but after a few rotations its good drive, the more earthy sound of the guitars and the straight and catchy chorus fully convince, seamlessly continuing with the slower “The Vision“, which also sounds darker, with a very catchy, but never shallow chorus once more.
Especially the expressive, a bit rougher voice of Apollo stands out very positively, nicely differing from the mostly uniform sounding fronters of this particular style. That he also masters the quieter regions, is proved right after with “Dream On”, which is started up with Arabic melodies, very strong song, while “Divina Comedia” is driven by powerful double-bass and culminates in a super catchy, powerful chorus,
“Voices“ has a slight progressive touch, coupled with the straight chorus, once more borne by Apollo’s very powerful vocals, a bit later on in this song it goes down to vocals, drums and keyboards, very intense indeed, followed by the very calm and dark “In Death”, only consisting of acoustic guitar, keyboards and vocals, very good closer.
The production of Mike Wead never lets and doubts arise, while the songs do not ignite as fast as still on the debut, but have more longevity than many colleagues instead. All in all an album that stays true to the neoclassical style, but at the same time has just enough of a different touch to nicely differ. (Online September 1, 2004)