F U L L . R E V I E W S

Messiah's Kiss - Metal - 2004 - SPV - reviewed by: EC

Track Listing
01 Execrate
02 Uncaging Rebellion
03 Believer
04 Metal `til We Die
05 Fight Or Fall
06 Holy Waters
07 Angels
08 Hell Or Victory
09 Tears In The Rain
10 Run And Hide
11 Road To Exxtasy
12 Blackhawk
13 The Edge Of Eternity
14 Dog Idol
Sonic Cops Of Noise Control
Say It Ain't Original
We Keep Our Style
Don't Give A Damn!

The lyrics to "Metal 'Til We Die", taken from the new album "Metal" from Messiah's Kiss, pretty much says it all here. "Metal" is a German power metal album, not really making any leaps and bounds beyond the genre's true essence of METAL, but still entertaining the listener with 14 solid tracks of German power. With this new record, Messiah's Kiss has chosen a different producer from their debut, settling for Nilolo Kitzev in place of Herman Frank (Victory,Accept,Moon Doc). "Metal" is different in a lot of ways from the group's debut, "A Prayer For The Dying" from 2002. For starters, Kitzev's production job is very gritty, taking the band in a more rigid approach, as opposed to Frank's knob-turning on the band's debut, one that was extremely polished and clean, a record that reminded me of early Accept, a tight-knit Judas Priest, and at times shades of vintage hard rock ala Victory and Scorpions. With "Metal", the guitars and drums are set rather low in the mix, with bumble-bee bass lines and Mike Tirelli's vocals standing at the forefront, changing Messiah's Kiss from clean shave to stubble, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, its just a different approach to the album and one that I really wasn't expecting.

The group has enlisted a new bass player as well, replacing Andreas Boschak with Wayne Banks, which could explain the change in bass sound, as Banks reminds me of Geezer Butler crossed with D.D. Verni at times, which is probably why Kitzev decided to put the rich bass lines in the center of the sound. The rest of the lot stays intact, with American power-shouter and current Holy Mother frontman Mike Tirelli once again taking command of his ship, basically taking the same vocal stance that he had on the debut record, but this time choosing to stay in mid-temp range. Tirelli rarely goes into the higher notes on this album, basically allowing his emotion to keep him mid-drift, reminding me of Ronnie James Dio or Tony Martin on this effort.

"Metal" has everything a good power metal album should have, from fantasy styled lyrics of war-torn wastelands, to the more simplistic anthems that echo metal freedom. A lot of this album reminds me of more traditional anthem-inspired bands like Manowar, Majesty, and even Unrest. I see songs like "Metal 'Til We Die" and "Believer" as perfect examples of this "new" Messiah's Kiss approach, one that still embodies the metal flavor of their debut, but this time throwing in some different ingredients. "Fight Or Fall" reminds me of US metal, perhaps allowing room for Riot and Armored Saint with its shout-it-out-loud chorus and the "running rampant" gallop that seems to fill the song out.

"Hell Or Victory" is a fantasy themed track, with Tirelli and company hooking up for a terrific melody, reminding me of Jeff Scott Soto's wonderful combinations with Axel Rudi Pell in the 90s. "Holy Waters" echoes that same vibe as well, wth its German accent on epic fantasy. Album opener "Uncaging Rebellion" is similar to the band's debut material, with a huge chant secton via the chorus part. At times this album just smokes, with solid tracks like "Hell Or Victory", "Holy Waters", "Metal 'Til We Die", "Fight Or Fall", and the war-like "Blackhawk". Some other tracks are somewhat paint-by-numbers, but nevertheless extremely entertaining to these ears.

They say sequels are never as good as the first, but I'm not entirely sure that is the case here. This sophomore album just simply chooses to go another route, one that has the same destination as the first, that being a place that will please the dedicated metal fans. This is an album of sincere true metal greatness that embarks on a slighty different journey from this point on. It will be interesting to see where Messiah's Kiss takes things from here.

One thing is for sure, Messiah's Kiss will always play "Metal".

--EC 06.04.04
About this Writer:
Eric Compton // Eric Compton lives in the most haunted city in the world, St. Augustine, Florida with his family and two yorkies. He has contributed to MaximumMetal.com since it's conception in 2003. His reviews, interviews and social commentary has been featured on websites like Brave Words, Blabbermouth, Metal Temple, Metal Rules, Ultimate Metal, Metal Maniacs and Wikipedia. You can also find him on his paperbackwarrior.com blog discussing all things action and adventure.

Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.

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