BALANCE OF POWER - Heathen Machine

Balance Of Power - Heathen Machine

9 songs
56:38 minutes
***** ***


I knew Balance Of Power until now only because of their former vocalist Lance King, who has sung already with many different artists in the past. Since he left the band, I have nothing to compare them too, and can approach them without any preconceptions. So far, so good. The label says this is the album fans expected of Queensryche after their Empire platinum seller... I can't say I expected anything after that album (always face the future with an open mind!), but that description isn't that far off. My first impression was early-Nineties Fates Warning, with less of an ear for commercial hooks and a slightly more rocking attitude. Nothing too new, but Balance Of Power counteract this lack of originality with a steady feeling for epic melodies that make this album probably interesting for every fan of progressive melodic metal.

Considering that they are from England, it's even more of a surprise, as apart from Porcupine Tree and Threshold, I can't think of any prog bands that made it past the Eighties. I am not going to go into details, as the songs average seven minutes playing time, for a reason: there are no fillers as such, but sprawling songwriting that has become surprisingly rare these days. Which means, the more you listen, the more you discover. It's not just endlessly repeating choruses and never ending guitar solos, but intelligent song design that should appeal to everyone who likes demanding rock music. OK, the vocals are high pitched and definitely aimed at a metal audience, but if you feel cheated by pseudo-long songs delivered by the likes of Fates Warning and Dream Theater (who add several different song-parts into one pseudo-half-hour-piece), then you might want to check Balance Of Power. Heathen Machine is their fifth album so far, and the experience shows.

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