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Lancer – Second Storm Review

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Released by: Despotz Records

Release Date: Out Now!!!

Genre: Power/Speed Metal

Links: lancermetal.com

 

Line Up:

Isak Stenvall – Vocals

Per-Owe “Ewo” Solvelius – Guitars

Fredrik Kelemen – Guitars

Emil Öberg – Bass

Sebastian Pedernera – Drums

 

Tracklist:

1. Running From the Tyrant

2. Iwo Jima

3. Masters and Crowns

4. Behind the Wall

5. Aton

6. Children of the Storm

7. Steelbreaker

8. Eyes of the Liar

9. Fools Marches On

 

In 2013 Swedish power metal group Lancer entered the scene with their highly addictive self-titled debut, an album which had a very strong 80’s feel to it from start to finish, mixing elements of early Helloween and classic Maiden together to make for a style that was perhaps a bit cliche, but certainly a lot of fun to listen to. There was nothing overly original about their debut, but they pulled the sound off well enough that I was left wondering if they’d be able to top themselves. Two years later, they’ve returned with their sophomore release, the appropriately titled Second Storm, and once again the band has delivered a delightful slice of 80’s power/speed metal that’s all killer and no filler,, improving on their already strong debut.

As before, their sound can best be described as a mix between very early Helloween (I’m talking Walls of Jericho/Keeper of the Seven Keys era) and mid/late 80’s Iron Maiden. The guitars often have that distinct sound of classic Maiden to them, with galloping riffs throughout, and the bass comes through loud and clear (the mixing on this album is exceptionally good,) but the tempo is usually very fast on most tracks, which gives it more of a power/speed metal feel. If anything, I find this album to be even speedier than their debut, and slightly heavier at times, but otherwise it’s pretty much a continuation of what worked before, except with even better execution.

Performances are strong across the board. Each instrument can be heard very clearly, and the music is very high energy throughout, just like the debut. The guitar work is especially strong throughout, and many tracks have some nice melodic solos and excellent extended instrumental portions where the guitars really shine. Singer Isak Stenvall remains a perfect fit for the band, showcasing his excellent high pitched but clear power vocals throughout the speedier portions, while toning it down and singing very softly during the few slower portions. As before, I find I like him even more on the slower, more melodic sections, but he sounds great throughout.

The biggest area where the band has improved is in the songwriting. Their debut was consistently solid, though I found a couple tracks to be slightly weaker than the rest, while Second Storm has no less than great songs, but a couple tracks stand out as being even better than the rest. One of those is opening track “Running From the Tyrant”, a super speedy track which alternates between very energetic verses and an outstanding chorus, kicking the album off on a clear high note. But perhaps my favorite song is the near 10 minute epic “Aton”, a track which starts off with slow paced verses and another amazing chorus, before speeding up for an epic instrumental section in the middle, and then slowing down once again for a ballad like section, before picking up the tempo once again towards the end. It’s easily the most complicated track Lancer has done so far, and everything sounds great, from the epic vocal melodies of the first half to the outstanding instrumental work in the second half. The only other slower track on the album is “Eyes of the Liar”, the only real traditional heavy metal track on the album, and while it’ one of the more straight-forward tracks, it’s another one that manages to be very fun and memorable.

Other highlights include “Iwo Jima”, a song I’d describe as Iron Maiden on speed, as it demonstrates that classic guitar sound very well, but pairs it up with double bass drumming during the verses, to make for one very addictive song. That track also has a particularly impressive solo section. Next is “Masters and Crowns”, a track I initially didn’t like to much, but it has grown on me quite a bit over time. The verses are mid paced and the section just before the chorus is perhaps the one part of the album I flat out dislike (it just sounds really awkward and forced to me,) but as soon as the chorus hits for the first time, track picks up steam and keeps improving as it goes along. Influences of Helloween can be found throughout the album, but they’re especially obvious on tracks like “Behind the Walls” and “Steelbreaker”, two tracks which feature a rawer, more speed metal infused sound. The former in particular feels like it could have been a lost track from one of the Keeper albums, especially during the verses. Lastly, the closing track “Fools Marches On” is yet another very fast paced track, which is excellent throughout, before closing with a very nice quiet section where Isak gets to showcase his softer vocals.

Second Storm can be summed up as “more of the same, but better”, and that’s pretty much how I’d describe it. Anyone not impressed by Lancer on their debut is not likely to change their minds with this one, but fans of their classic Helloween meets Iron Maiden sound are sure to be impressed once again, while fans of 80’s power/speed metal are highly recommended to check it out.

Written by: Travis Green

 

Ratings:  Travis 8/10

 

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