If you missed out on Alphastate‘s independently released debut full-length ‘Out of the Black’, it wouldn’t hurt to give it a spin in preparation for their upcoming record ‘The Grind’. Once you’re initiated you’ll find they’ve sustained that same accessible melodic heavy metal sound (think Armored Saint circa ’91) but opted for a slight increase in aggression that represents the space between old Nevermore and the groove heavy era Testament. ‘The Grind’ still very much represents melodic heavy/power metal, and lives up to the promise of their debut, as Manos Xanthakis voice drives the otherwise fairly standard heavy metal experience.
If you’re more geared towards guitar work than vocal work ‘The Grind’ will almost certainly test your patience and thirst for huge and thoughtful riffs, as this style of heavy metal is largely in service to the vocalists performances. There are some spirited grinders here, though, with the opener “Trapped” kicking out some classic early 90’s bay area thrashing and “Forevermore” wailing on high. I don’t think it ever really pushes past something like Meliah Rage or maybe Perzonal War in terms of guitar work, but most of the songs avoid dragging. After a few listens I warmed up to Xanthakis’ voice a bit. I’m not often one for the AOR/power metal side of metal vocalists but he carries a tune well without sounding completely standardized and there are some inventive guitar solos throughout the album.
Without going full power metal or thrash in performance Alphastate stays steadily melodic heavy metal in tone throughout, and that left me wanting more variation. I love anthemic old school heavy metal but I think that some of these more generic melodies dried up in the mouth of heavy metal decades ago for good reason. My only real issue with ‘The Grind’ is that it rests in one comfortable pace and expression throughout with instrumentation that feels edgeless and expected. The heavier moments do a lot to keep me interested in a few tracks, but perhaps nothing I hadn’t heard before. If you’re more of a thrash metalhead you might want to stick with ‘Trapped”, “Phantom Desires” and “Forevermore” and leave it at that unless you’re a melodic heavy metal fanatic.
|Released||April 3, 2018|
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Departing souls. 2.5/5.0
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