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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Powertrain

Tracks

Review by Gary Hill

With Tracks, Powertrain has released a disc that should please fans of power metal and bands like Rainbow. The group manages to create something that never feels redundant, but also seems cohesive. References to Rainbow are appropriate, but Uriah Heep, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and others are offered up, too.

All in all, this is an exceptional disc. The only real problem with it is that the production feels just a little flat. It would be great to hear this outfit record in a major pro-studio. They’ve created a great album as it is.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Eating You

There’s a short progressive like build that opens the album and the first track. From there it moves out to more purely metallic territory. This feels like a power metal tune. It’s mid-tempo and has sort of a power ballad arrangement. The vocals call to mind Dio. There is a lot of dynamic range on this tune and it’s a great way to start the set in style.

Cain

The opening section of “Cain” is less metallic. It’s definitely got a melodic sound to it. It turns towards more pure metal, but the feeling is less power metal. The chorus is catchy and there are some odd little touches like a cool bass line and some nicely strange female vocals. It also includes some great melodic guitar lines.

One Night

This pounds in and just plain rocks. It’s one of the best tunes on show. It feels a lot like a combination of Rainbow and Dio era Black Sabbath. Of course, the fact that the vocals feel Dio-like adds to that effect. The metal turned melodic atmosphere is also a big part of that link. The guitar soloing is rather like something Ritchie Blackmore might do, strengthening that Rainbow comparison.

Radio

Appropriately, “Radio” opens with the sound of a radio scanning along the frequencies. From there they launch out into a tune that’s got a bit of a 1980s metal texture, but with more substance. It’s one of the most instantly accessible tunes here, but it doesn’t lose any power in the process. 

Stray
In a nod to both progressive rock and epic metal, “Stray” opens with keyboards. It works out to a melodic metal approach from there. The cut could easily land in the vicinity of progressive rock. The vocals are definitely not in the mode of Dio and in a lot of ways the song feels fairly close to the type of music Uriah Heep does. There’s a cool melodic movement mid-track that has some spoken vocals. It turns to a Uriah Heep goes prog motif for a short time.
Out of Place

This still has that Uriah Heep vibe along with some definite progressive rock leanings. Somehow it also manages to feel a bit like old-school Scorpions. It’s really an intriguing cut. It might not be the most “grab you first time” number on show, but it really stands out after a few times.

Rock Train

The bass line on “Rock Train” is frantic and crazed, as is a lot of the other music in the piece. There’s some great classically tinged guitar soloing, but the chorus is a bit trite. Still, in some ways it feels like what you might get if you combined Rainbow with King Crimson. There is an instrumental section that feels a lot like Deep Purple, too.

Complication

Bass guitar opens “Complication” in a decidedly progressive like way. The cut builds out into more metal territory as other instruments join. The first vocals are over the top of a stripped down arrangement. The musical plot of the tune alternates between mellower sections and harder rocking ones, but it’s generally melodic. The vocal performance is one of the best on the disc and it feels, in a lot of ways like a cross between Uriah Heep and Rainbow with a bit more metal in the mix. There’s a progressive rock like instrumental section later that gives way to a powerhouse guitar solo movement that’s both technical and classically oriented.

Her Majesty

This is definitely more metallic early. It has a lot of those Rainbow influences, but also features a power metal instrumental section. The melodic chorus is more prog-like. The guitar solo later seems to wander between thrash and technical power metal. There’s a rather progressive rock styled movement later and a killer jam that follows that has a lot of Deep Purple in it. The tune is one of the most dynamic of the set.

Say You Will

While “Say You Will” starts with an almost progressive rock oriented melodic movement, it works out to the most straightforward sounds of the set. In a lot of ways it feels like what Guns ‘N Roses might sound like doing power metal. Of course, that’s without Axel Rose singing. It’s not a bad tune, but a bit too generic in comparison to the rest of the stuff here. That makes it the weak link. Considering it’s still pretty strong, that says a lot.

Hard Core

The bass leads off “Hard Core” and as other instruments join it’s got a proggy feeling to it, a little like Pink Floyd. It works out to a more typical power metal structure, but still quite melodic and rather mellow in nature. Rainbow is certainly a valid reference here, too. It is quite a dynamic and power piece, and a great choice for closing number.

 
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