The gentlemen that looks at us off the cover of KRAGENS’ debut “Dying In A Desert“ has a certain similarity with Knarrenheinz, the mascot of Ruhrpott Thrashers SODOM, but that’s it with the similarities, meaning that you should not let the Jean-Pascal Fournier cover to lead you astray, when you are flipping through the rows of your favourite CD shop. Even though the first association clearly set the signs to Thrash, the gentlemen Espeche, Sellier, Laperche, Malek and Gavelle have put Power Metal onto their banner, which is described as mix of NEVERMORE and ICED EARTH by the record label.
Founded in 2000, in the French Riviera city Nice, KRAGENS play anything but the usual Power Metal, though, definitely not! First off the riffing shows more influences from Thrash Metal than the bombast corner, the keyboards are used a lot less epic, Renaud Espeche’s voice is a lot grittier than the gros and here and there they even add some Death Metal vocals, mostly by MÖRG’s Eric “Blacky“ Sebbart, with one guest contribution of AGRESSOR’s Alex Colin-Tocquaine.
Death Metal enriched with Power Metal vocals, we already had that several years back with Swedish AUBERON, but Power Metal with some Death Metal vocals is something that I don’t think we got so far. And without any intro delay the title track “Dying In A Desert” breaks through! Fat double-bass, heavy riffing, hard, but melodic vocals, this really cracks! “Carnivore Ritual” then for the first time brings in some Death Metal vocals, into a very riffy song with very melodic and catchy chorus.
“Kragens“ is a true cracker, with relatively strong keyboards, which form an excellent contrast to the heavy and intense riffing. Add to that completely German lyrics, which are a bit adventurous at times, the vocals themselves remind me a bit of LAIBACH. And right after “Fear”, again with a very catchy and melodic chorus and really heavy guitars, the gritty vocals also fit in seamlessly, remind me of somebody else, I just cannot remember who…
The chorus of “Metal Hunter“ – I only say Halford! “Road Warrior“ again shows fat double-bass, crunchy vocals and heavy riffing, but still with a lot of catchiness and good melodies, especially in the chorus (you can see, there is some sort of pattern here), while “World Made Of Heroes“ reminds me a bit of ADAGIO, with slightly neo-classical riffing, double-bass and keyboards before stepping on the pedal again towards the end.
Towards the end KRAGENS have two strong closers, “Rise Up Your Fist To Fight“ in a heavy mid-tempo, with Espeche’s rough/melodic vocals, a stomping banger that will be a sure live favourite, again with very melodic chorus, but with some Death Metal vocals in it. And “Destroying The Temple“ again is damn heavy, but the chorus sets the contrast once more.
I can attest the Frenchmen at least some originality and absolutely a more than remarkable heaviness and tightness, combined with great melodies, in my opinion the best French Metal album of the year! (Online September 27, 2004)