Released By: Massacre Records
Release Date: February 17, 2015
Genre: Heavy/Power Metal
Efthimios Ioannidis – Vocals
Axel A.J. Julius – Guitars
Andreas Zeidler – Guitars
Jonathan Sell – Bass
Patrick Klose – Drums
6. The Judgement
7. Battle of Poseidon
9. Known Better
10. The Race
11. The Legionary
After nearly 13 years of waiting, fans of German metal band Scanner can finally hear their sixth full length album The Judgement. I’ve had very limited previous exposure to their music, but from what I understand their debut Hypertrace is considered a speed metal classic, while their other albums have received more mixed reactions, but still mostly positive. At this point in their career, guitarist Axel “A.J” Julius is their lone remaining member, and in between this and their previous release Scantropolis, several changes were made. But at long last the album is here, and as their first full album I’ve heard, it certainly isn’t a bad place to start.
Elements of their classic speed metal sound are very prominent, at least in the early portions of the album. The first half is generally fast paced, aggressive, raw sounding power metal driven by the powerful guitars and energetic lead vocals from Greek singer Efthimios Ioannidis. The opener “F.T.B.” (which of course stands for the very classy “Fuck the Bastards”) feels like it came straight from the 80’s, and it makes a very strong impact right away, with everything from the lead riffs to the excellent chorus and the solo section all serving as a great opening to the album, and also potentially a strong introduction to the band for some. One thing some people may not like that nonetheless adds to the 80’s feeling, is that the production on this track and the album on the whole is rather minimal, and at times it feels like the sound could have been polished up just a little bit to make it sound even more powerful.
Scanner has had many different singers over the years, but hopefully Efthimios Ioannidis can stay around for a while. He instantly proves himself to be a great fit for the band, utilizing his powerful, raspy lower vocals through much of the opening song, and this continues throughout most of the album. At times he shows some higher pitched heavy metal wails, which are also effective, as well some occasional softer vocals, most notably on the slower track “Known Better”.
The pace doesn’t let up with “Nevermore “ and “Warlord”. The former has very energetic verses and an exceptionally strong instrumental portion, though I find its chorus to be a bit lacking, while the latter is pure fun the whole way through, sounding a bit more raw for most of its duration, except for the more melodic chorus, which is a definite highlight. The title track and “The Race” are also quite speedy, with the former alternating between thrashier riffs and more melodic portions during its chorus, while the latter is a solid track overall, but I feel the solo section is a bit too similar to “Nevermore” for it to really stand out. Rounding out the faster tracks is the 7 minute “Battle of Poseidon”, which features some nice choir vocals during the chorus, as well as a pretty effective softer section in the second half. On the whole, it’s an excellent track with a few tempo changes, and is definitely the most epic and complex song on the album.
I find the slower, more heavy metal focused tracks a bit less impressive, with “Known Better” especially seeming a bit weak, aside from the vocals. “Eutopia” is also a bit disappointing. The softer portion in the middle is great, but the main riff isn’t particularly memorable, the verses are a bit boring and I find the song drags on a bit too long. The best of these is the closer “The Legionary”, which has a very memorable chorus, as well as some nice instrumental work, while “Pirates” is also very enjoyable the whole way through.
With The Judgement, Scanner hasn’t done anything particularly fresh or innovative, but what they have done is produce some very fun 80’s style heavy/power metal, with elements of their classic speed metal sound. I find the second half a bit lacking, but the first half is almost entirely excellent, and overall it’s a very solid album that can easily be recommended to fans of the more raw and aggressive power metal, as well as fans of traditional heavy metal and 80’s speed metal.
Written by: Travis Green