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Symphorce - 2002 Phorcefulahead

Andy B. Franck - vocals
Cedric Cede Dupont - guitars
Markus Poh - guitars
Dennis Wohlbold - bass
Sascha Sauer - drums

'PhorcefulAhead' is the third album for German power metallers Symphorce and their first for Metal Blade. Formed in October 1998 by Franck, the band was signed by Noise Records almost immediately and with a lineup containing none of the above, released 'Truth To Promises' in 1999. Dupont and Wohlbold joined in 2000, in time for follow up 'Sinctuary' which reinforced Symphorce's credentials as an up-and-coming power metal act. For 'phorcefulAhead' Pohl joined as second guitarist, while Sauer became the latest drummer. The plaudits Symphorce are receiving are somewhat deserved, an acceptable mixture of Queensryche and Judas Priest among others to accurately gauge their sound. It's more high-tech in terms of studio effects, but the basic ingredients of riff-based metal are the main feature.

The Songs
Once lead track 'Speak to Mind' settles down after a lengthy intro, Franck's vocals take a Geoff Tate turn, par for the course for this genre. This is noticeably heavier, and the riffs are fierce yet melodic, with keyboards splashed in the mix for a dreamy effect. 'Unbroken' picks up the pace a notch and is furthered by 'Slow Down', which is close to 'Painkiller' era Judas Priest in the thrashier segments. The band seems to favor slower intro's before building up steam, as heard in 'Longing Home' that shifts back and forth between both. Franck has his Bruce Dickinson mask on for his vocals here. The dual riffing shreds its way through 'Moving In Circles', but the chorus is melodically pleasing, something essential for power metal to succeed. Queensryche comparisons abound once more for 'Your Blood, My Soul'; containing all those vocal harmonies which made the US act such a pioneer in the power metal stakes. The hook here could almost be AOR, some outstanding chord changes installed for maximum purposes. This is instantly forgotten by the brute power of 'Rage of Violence', musically correct for such a title, the guitar tandem tearing things up. 'Nothin' Left' is remarkably similar to current Ripper Owens era Judas Priest, leaving me convinced that Owens himself is guesting here. Three bonus tracks are included, all which lack bass, obviously unfinished. This leaves all three powerless, although you can hear the menace behind 'Force Fed', just in a weakened state.

In Summary
This is an adept recording by a technically proficient band. It's satisfying to hear well-crafted melody, set to a background including wall of noise riffs and intricate drum fills. When the band decide to play it fast, it's even more convincing, leaving me to wonder if there's life as a thrash band! As it is two members, Franck and Dupont, already play in other bands, Brainstorm and Freedom Call respectively. So far, 'phorcefulAhead' has gained unanimous praise from the majority of the European metal press, and for once, there is basis for such applause. With such an array of talent and the ability to blend varied styles of metal together, Symphorce should be around for a while yet.

Produced by: Franck and Dupont
Track Time: 47.02

Track Listing:
01 Speak My Mind
02 Unbroken
03 Slow Down
04 Longing Home
05 Moving In Circles
06 Falling Through Again
07 Your Blood, My Soul
08 Rage Of Violence
09 Touched And Infected
10 Nothin' Left
11 Where Night Returns (bonus)
12 Force Fed (bonus)
13 In Times Of Grief (bonus)

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