Monday, March 14, 2016

Mob Rules (review by The Man of Much Metal)

Artist: Mob Rules
Album Title: Tales From Beyond
Label: SPV/Steamhammer
Date of Release: 18 March 2016
Our Teutonic friends really love this style of heavy metal and, as such, Mob Rules are one of a huge number of power metal bands that originate from Germany. The sextet also happen to be one of the best and are one of the relatively few that I ensure I keep tabs on. ‘Tales From Beyond’ is, I was surprised to find out, their ninth album during a career that has spanned over 20 years. Mind you, perhaps I shouldn’t be overly surprised because this reasonable longevity has brought with it a high level of consistency and a small army of cult followers.
The first thing to say about ‘Tales From Beyond’ is that it is arguably the most ‘British’ that Messrs Dirks (vocals), Mineur (guitars) Ludke (guitars), Halfbrodt (keyboards), Brinkmann (bass) and Fritz (drums) have sounded in a while. By that, I mean that their brand of music throughout this hour-long, eleven-minute record is heavily inspired by the likes of Iron Maiden in particular and the ‘New Wave Of British Heavy Metal’ movement in general. That said, Mob Rules do have their own identity and do manage to just about sidestep ‘copycat’ status. But only just and it’s down to two things in my opinion: the strength of the song writing and the musicianship.
Throughout the album, there are enough memorable choruses, hooks, solos and engaging riffs, all performed with consummate professionalism to divert the listener’s attention from the fact that Mob Rules might sound similar to others and instead focus on enjoying the output on its own merits.
The case in point is the opening epic ‘Dykemaster’s Tale’. It begins in classic Maiden style with a quiet opening before launching into a song that easily sounds like it could have come from the ‘Fear Of The Dark’ writing sessions. But that never seems to matter and I find myself focussing more on the song itself rather than making comparisons. And what a song it is; full of twists and turns, driving riffs and rhythms, blazing solos and a rousing chorus. It is also quite progressive in terms of the amount of light and shade and atmosphere it creates.
And, on the subject of ‘progressive’, look no further than the title track which is split into three sections. Spanning over 15 minutes, it is a sprawling affair that offers the listener a little bit of everything that Mob Rules has to offer. Stomping mid-tempo riffs, solos, compelling vocals and lashings of understated atmosphere all play a part in ending the album on a real high. Personally, Part 2 is my favourite section. The beginning reminds me of Anathema circa ‘Eternity’ strangely enough but what makes it such a hit with me is the killer, impassioned vocals that sit atop a wonderfully catchy and surprisingly emotional chorus.
In between, however, the quality doesn’t really suffer, with plenty of great moments to be heard. ‘Somerled’ for example, begins with the haunting sounds of the wind whipping across the hilltops before being joined by bagpipes in a Celtic-inspired intro. The track then opens up into the kind of up-tempo song that reminds us just how infectious power metal can be when constructed with care and attention to detail.
Then there’s the blood and thunder, heavy and pounding ‘Dust Of Vengeance’ and ‘Signs’ with its Savatage-esque opening riff and mid-tempo stomp that opens up into a simple but effective chorus. ‘On The edge’ features a really lovely, melodic opening riff, galloping tempo and hook-laden chorus whilst ‘My Kingdom Come’ is altogether moodier but eventually builds to another memorable chorus.
Factor into the mix a strong production, a bonus track (‘Outer Space’) depending on the version you plump for and lyrics which go beyond the normally superficial and tongue-in-cheek power metal fare. It all adds up to a hugely enjoyable release and one that is recommended to fans of both power metal and more traditional straight-up classic heavy metal.
The Score Of Much Metal: 8.25
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