Saturday, July 22, 2017

Toxik – Breaking Class

New material from classic 80s thrash band Toxik has been anticipated for a long time. Not just because it’s almost 30 years since their last record, but also because the band has been working on it for seemingly a very long time. Though it’s not a full length, “Breaking Class” is what the band has come up with so far, and the result may not be too enticing to long time Toxik fans. The band definitely still plays thrash, but instead avoid the super technical nature they were once known for. In addition, the return of “Think This” vocalist Charles Sabin isn’t all that noticeable. He rarely hits a sky-high note, instead opting for a more normal upper range voice. Fortunately, mainman Josh Christian still has plenty of opportunities to show that his shredding skills are just as impressive as they were 30 years ago, with his best playing coming on "Psyop".

Everything about “Breaking Class” feels a little too modern. The American flag on the cover makes it immediately clear what this entire EP is about, giving it strong vibes of Coldsteel’s “America Idle” EP (though that one was far superior). Even though the riffs themselves are pretty fast, it just doesn’t feel as authentic as it once did. The title track is definitely the fastest and best of the three songs, and it has an outstanding nod to the title track of “World Circus” with a psychotic riff after the first chorus, but the overall impact of the song isn’t quite what one would hope for. 

Breaking Class” ultimately falls in a very strange space in terms of reunion efforts because it doesn’t completely miss the mark like many other bands, and yet it just doesn’t feel right. The sound and technical skill are there, but they don’t come together properly, and so this EP is likely to get lost amidst the plethora of modern sounding thrash releases being released in 2017. 

Be sure to check out and like Toxik on Facebook!

Highlights
"Breaking Class"

Final Rating
3.3/5 or 66%. 

Written by Scott

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Rhapsody of Fire – Legendary Years

Though the Rhapsody of Fire has been derided by many in recent years for continuing after Luca Turilli left the band, it really hasn't been that bad. Truthfully, both Luca and Alex Staropoli are equally important to the band, and one listen to Luca’s albums will make that very clear. But now that the voice of Rhapsody has also left the band, it becomes more difficult to justify Rhapsody of Fire’s existence (and Rhapsody Reunion only complicates matters). The band has brought in a new singer, however, and decided to re-record 14 classics to introduce him to us. The result is “Legendary Years”, a release that doesn’t sound significantly different from what you’d expect.

There isn’t much to say about the musical performances. The songs are performed faithfully to the originals, but are a little clearer depending upon which album the song was originally from. The drums in particular tend to sound more modern, but otherwise, these songs aren’t throwing any surprises at you. From a tracklist perspective, there are some questionable choices. Generally, Rhapsody of Fire was pretty cognizant of what their classic songs are, but including 5 tracks from “Symphony of Enchanted Lands” seems like a mistake, particularly given that “Wisdom of The Kings” and “Eternal Glory” weren’t among them. Nevertheless, with “Dawn of Victory”, “Emerald Sword”, “Land of Immortals”, and “Holy Thunderforce”, the band had many of their best songs covered.

This brings us to Giacomo Voli, the new singer. He is one of many that has mastered the art of sounding like Fabio Lione. Obviously, he isn’t identical, but it’s clear that Alex picked a singer who would uphold Rhapsody’s core sound. It might be sacrilege to say it, but the best thing he has going for him is how much clearer his enunciation is than Fabio’s. As much as I love Rhapsody, I’ve barely ever understood even half of the lyrics in any of their work, but immediately from “Dawn of Victory” onwards, that problem is rectified. Sadly, this would be the only point of improvement in the vocals. Voli has the sound, but not the spirit. In particular, a track like “Holy Thunderforce” is just brimming with enthusiasm when Fabio sings it, but falls relatively flat with Voli. Similarly, the softer moments in many songs don’t match up to the originals. The only track where Voli does something remotely unique is “When Demons Awake”, where he unleashes vocals far harsher than anything Fabio had done to that point (although Fabio would later show he could growl on some more recent Rhapsody releases). 

Ultimately, “Legendary Years” is fairly pointless. It served its purpose of introducing us to the new singer, but there’s no chance anybody would ever take a new singer over Fabio on the classic songs. If the band had put out an original record, it’s likely that some could have been won over because of the strength of any new songs. This album isn’t terrible in any way, it just doesn’t really need to exist.

Be sure to check out and like Rhapsody of Fire on Facebook!

Highlights
"Dawn of Victory"
"Land of Immortals"
"Emerald Sword"

Final Rating
3.5/5 or 70%. 

Written by Scott