ZANDELLE - Perseverance

Zandelle - Perseverance

11 songs
59:05 minutes
***** ***
Pure Steel

Bandpage

13 years ago, New York City power metal quintet Zandelle were the first band starting with the letter Z to be reviewed on DisAgreement Online. The bandís beginning go even back further, in the mid-Nineties, when vocalist George Tsalikis founded Zandelle after quitting his former band Gothic Knights. A first album was self-released in 1998, before the band signed to Limb Music where they released two albums. Afterwards they signed to Pure Steel Records, which is probably the ideal haven for their kind of traditional power metal.

The fifth studio album Perseverance comes with a very fitting title. Itís been six years since the predecessor, with a compilation of re-recordings of older material shortening the really long waiting period, but it is obvious from the start that Zandelle have lost nothing of their charm. If anything, they have even refined their very own brand of metal. Although the quintet has never been accused of being innovators, they still know how to construct a fine amalgam of traditional US power metal in the vein of Iced Earth, with progressive overtones borrowed by Helstar, and a healthy dose of European power metal reminding of Kai Hansen era Helloween.

The inclusion of a keyboard player is rather unusual for this kind of music. There are fortunately hardly any symphonic parts, instead the keyboards are used either to furnish some progressive arpeggio lines or to add occasional atmosphere. Both of these can be expansively heard on the two and a half minute intro Resurgence, where guitar and keyboards make for a nice classical metal intro, setting the mood for what is to follow. The first regular song Unending Fortitude, one of only two songs below five minutes, is a trademark Zandelle track, offering up-tempo power metal with a well thought through verse-bridge-chorus structure, where especially the chorus is emphasised by the backing vocals. The following Lycanthrope follows in a similar direction, and while it may become obvious quite soon that Zandelleís modus operandi doesnít differ that much from song to song, it is also evident that they are master songwriters, so that after repeated listening you will soon recognise the individual tracks. Zandelle are also at home in different regions, like the doomy mid-tempo hymn Shadow Slaves or the semi-ballad Innocence Lost that draws parallels to such different bands like Metal Church and even Whitesnake, the latter having been covered by Zandelle already in the past.

Six years is a long time between albums, but Zandelle prove that the wait has been worth it. The band is acting constantly on an elevated level for the entire hour of Perseverance. Some points of criticism remain though: the lyrics seem to be rather silly, although in fairness I have to admit that I havenít had the opportunity to read them. But hey, itís heavy metal, where lyrical content is generally secondary to performance. A little more serious is the production of the album, which feels a bit thin. The drums sound as if they were coming from far behind the mix. The good songwriting and heartfelt performance still make you enjoy the music, but in the twenty-first century, a more powerful sound should have been possible. Fans of vintage US power metal will still have a field day with Perseverance, and one can only hope that we wonít have to wait another six years for new music of this indestructible NYC powerhouse.

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