Released By: Napalm Records
Release Date” January 17th, 2020
Genre: Power Metal
David Baßin – Vocals
Dirk Scharsich – Guitars
Florian Zack – Guitars
Andreas Dockhorn – Bass
Frank Koppe – Drums
1. Tale of the Sunbladers
2. Ninjas Unite
3. Supersonic Samurai
4. Evil Wizard WuShu Master
5. Nippon Knights
6. Shuriken Showdown
7. Wasabi Warmachine
8. Wrath of the Dragongod
9. Astral Assassin Shark Attack
10. Space Ninjas From Hell
11. Cosmic Space Commando Base
12. Shinobi Strike 3000
When it comes to naming an album, some bands tend to be better than others, with some going with rather over the top ideas, or some interesting concepts, while others seemingly just throw out the most generic-looking title they can come up with, and leave it at that. At the extreme opposite end of the spectrum is Space Ninjas From Hell, the delightfully cheesy title chosen for the fifth full-length album by German power metal band Victorius. Coming off of their equally cheesy and delightfully fun EP, Dinosaur Warfare – Legend of the Power Saurus, it’s clear the band is having a lot of fun with their album titles and lyrical concepts. Putting all that aside, though, the most important question is obviously whether or not the music is any good. Thankfully, Victorius have proven themselves to be a consistently top-notch power metal band over the last several years, and if anything this latest release sees them taking their sound to the next level, to become their silliest, yet most enjoyable release to date!
Anyone familiar with the band’s past few releases should have a good idea of what to expect, as Space Ninjas From Hell doesn’t look to innovate, but instead takes everything that has worked on previous releases and kicks it all up a notch. This is as no-frills a power metal album as any fan could expect, with the entire album consisting of speedy, energetic tracks, with frantic tempos, melodic, super cheesy, yet incredibly catchy choruses, and a strong mix of hard-hitting guitars and nice, retro-style keys, with the music, often having a suitably Japanese flavor, to fit in with the concept.
Speaking of which, the lyrics are indeed as over the top and silly as one would expect just by looking at the title, with tales about evil ninjas being thwarted by wizards, and then coming back for revenge, as well as……. astral assassin sharks? Yep! Perhaps my one criticism regarding the concept is the closing track, which is essentially 2 ½ minutes of narration explaining the overall concept, somewhat in the style of a very cheesy movie trailer. This would have likely worked well enough as an intro track (though it would still feel a tad overlong) but as the end of an album, it feels a bit anticlimactic, especially since it gets you hyped up, as it explains the different themes covered throughout the album, only to make you have to restart the album to hear the songs again.
Performances are amazing across the board, as always, with David Baßin excelling with his powerful, slightly animated vocals, while duo guitarists Dirk Scharsich and Florian Zack are given quite a bit of space to work with, and of course, the keyboards are delightfully cheesy and fun, without ever getting to be too much, which has happened a bit on some recent power metal albums. Production is also excellent, and everything sounds perfect.
The songs themselves are the definite highlight, though, with no less than excellent songs across the whole album. Kicking things off is “Tale of the Sunbladers”, an extremely epic, very melodic, super fast-paced power metal track, with some of the most energetic verses I’ve heard in quite some time, enhanced by bursts of epic choir vocals. The chorus is extremely melodic and catchy and is one of the best on the album. while the solo section in the second half has some wonderful melodies. The song overall has a great mix of hard-hitting guitars and nice, retro-sounding keys, with slight symphonic elements, and it’s a delightfully fun track from start to finish.
Next up is “Ninjas Unite”, which keeps the momentum going with more fast tempos throughout the verses, only slowing down briefly for a darker pre-chorus section, before then going back to full speed for another fun chorus. It’s another straightforward, very catchy and energetic track, with excellent vocals and great guitar work. The lead single is “Supersonic Samurai”, which opens up with a nice, slow keyboard section, before speeding up with some nice duo guitar work, and this continues throughout the lightning-fast verses, which then leads into wild, over the top chorus with more wonderful vocal lines. The track, on the whole, has a very distinct Japanese flavor, especially in some of the guitar melodies, with the instrumental section in the second half especially showcasing this. That theme continues throughout the other singles, with “Nippon Knights” having some especially cheesy, but delightful Japanese sounding keys throughout, while “Shuriken Showdown” has a slight trance feel to it. Both tracks are fun and very upbeat, though not quite on the level of “Super Sonic Samurai”.
In between the singles is “Evil Wizard WuShu Master”, another track with some delightfully cheesy keyboards, wonderful duo guitar work, fast and furious tempos and a very melodic, yet intense chorus, with slight hints of darker melodies, at points. Three tracks later, (following the latter two singles) is “Wasabi Warmachine”, which starts with some rather cringe-inducing (but still kinda funny) narration, before launching into one of the most intense tracks on the album. It alternates nicely between slow and speedy sections and brings back some of the darker, heavier feels of the band’s third album, Dreamchaser, with some slightly thrashy guitar work throughout, and an overall darker tone, compared to most of the album. Even the keys have a sinister sound to them, with a slight symphonic feel, while the chorus is slower and quite intense. It’s a very enjoyable track, overall, and is a change of pace, compared to how light and upbeat most tracks are, which helps it to be a clear standout track.
Switching back to the more usual fare, “Wrath of the Dragongod” is a more mid-paced track, with a very upbeat feel, enhanced by epic choir vocals, and a huge, extremely melodic and catchy chorus. It starts off very light but picks up in speed and intensity as it goes on, with more excellent guitar work and some very nice, slightly Japanese sounding keys. The award for the best-named song of 2020 almost certainly has to be “Astral Assassin Shark Attack”, and thankfully the song itself fully delivers, with an absolutely wonderful keyboard intro, before fully speeding up with some insanely over the top guitars and keys. It flies through a wildly fun opening verse, before opening up for an awe-inspiring, insanely cheesy, yet undeniably addictive chorus, which has to be heard to be believed. The entire track is an absolute blast, with even the very brief instrumental section having some great melodies, and the song certainly puts a smile on my face every time.
In case the album wasn’t already delivering the goods, next is the title track, which has a slightly darker feel than most (though not quite on the level of “Wasabi Warmachine”), as it moves at a fairly moderate pace throughout the verses, with more slightly thrash infused guitars and some rather dark, slightly symphonic keys, with a distinctly Japanese flavor, once again. The chorus is one of the best on the album, speeding up nicely, with some incredibly fun and cheesy lyrics, and the slowed down, softly sung rendition near the end of the track is especially awesome. Overall, it’s probably my favorite track, here, and it’s certainly an incredible track, either way.
The last full song on the album is “Cosmic Space Commando Base”, a slower, lighter track, with some very nice melodic guitar work, and some nice, futuristic keys. While it’s a fairly laid backtrack, it still has some excellent melodies and a very catchy chorus, and it would have been a great way to end the album. Sadly, though, the album ends with the narration track I mentioned earlier, and while it’s a fairly entertaining track on its own, having it end the album just feels a bit disappointing.
Aside from that slightly anticlimactic ending, Space Ninjas From Hell is another triumph for Victorius, as it’s possibly their best, most consistently entertaining and delightfully cheesy release to date, with some of their tightest, most energetic songwriting so far. It’s a very fun release, which should please any fan of speedy, melodic power metal with a nice mix of powerful vocals, great duo guitar work, and some delightfully cheesy but not intrusive keyboards. Fans of previous releases should be delighted with this one, while anyone looking for a great power metal release is highly recommended to give this a try, as it’s sure to be one of the best releases from the genre to come out in 2020.
Written by: Travis Green
My Global Mind – Staff Writer
Travis Green is a Canadian based writer for My Global Mind, with a particular passion for power metal, as well as an interest metal in all its forms.