(Under The Grey Banner)
Helloween, Yngwie J. Malmsteen
Powerful symphonic opening painting pictures of medieval battle preparation leading into a female narrative that sets the tone for a metal progressive onslaught... an onslaught of hair metal masked with excessive progressive synthesizer and comical lands of ogres and tickle... uh we mean sword fights. Check out track 6 "The Black Mare", one of the best tracks on the album that actually morphs into horse trotting guitar riffs. Track 7, "Lady of Goldenwood", introduces female Irish operatic vocalist and narration, very different, we must say.
The vocals do at times get obnoxious with the vibrato arm lifting harmonies, but actually are balanced quite well through the album. Very nice production here with a very clear and crisp sound, very powerful sounding on Bose headphones.
Frankly the album surprised us in that there was a tremendous amount of thought and depth on what initially felt like a Sir Richards Fair geekfest soundtrack. The symphonic work is blended quite well and not just thrown in randomly. To add to the flair, the band actually has an interactive website that will map out your majestic journey to take along with them. Did we say over the top? Track 11 is the culmination and album titled track that brings it all home as the battle is won. Love the aftermath track 12 sung by Enya’s bodacious cousin Wanda. If you do not have much progressive rock in your collection, give this one a shot... we have to say it is good natured geeky progressive fun, you can’t say they did not put the effort into this one. - 10/2/12
Standout Tracks: The Black Mare, Lady of Goldenwood