Sunday, September 10, 2017

review: Mastercastle

[review by MMB]
Wine Of Heaven
Scarlet Records
release: 19 May 2017
The five albums that came before this new one went a long way towards laying down the basis of the band’s style: vocal melodies that can be remembered and guitar work that serves the purpose of the song, with a melodic and neoclassical style that is placed well and kept in control, never becoming self-serving/look-at-me showing off. As good as the albums that I have heard have been, this new one is their best work so far, I believe. The songs sound as if the band has taken things to a higher level and it is hard to identify which song (there are seven) is their designated hitter at bat (because they all are). In addition, there's a fun instrumental track in which the neoclassical melodies take the stage by themselves. It is mostly mellow or easy on the listener's ear, but, as you expect, once the soloing kicks in the energy level goes up. Speaking of neoclassical, as a fun addition the band includes a cover of the Yngwie Malmsteen classic "Making Love."
Coming back to the heart of the matter, the first seven songs on the album. The band puts all the chips on uptempo rockers, with a bit of a different mood in the songs, but the main thing is to make songs that feel good and that have a fun vibe. There is only one song that is a semi-ballad, but the tempo picks up and it's not a depressive song. The objective is to have songs that you can sing along to.
The singing. The vibe is somewhat high, but it's rock singing. It's not something extreme like opera singing. No growling and no screaming. Just melodic singing. No glass-shattering singing that turns off some people. The bass and drums sound good, solid stuff. The backbone of the songs is here. The drumming keeps the beat well. They do it so well that it does not distract from the songs.
The guitars. Some of the songs feature rather simple work and it is not super busy playing. In some spots the riffs show more complexity, but that's not what the music is really about. These are traditional, melodic heavy metal songs and they have a certain hard rock vibe to them, too. You don't have to be a diehard metal zealot to understand this music. In some places there are pop melodies that any traditional rock lover would get. The guitars show a great sense of restraint. Know when to do what is needed and for what purpose. The soloing can be melodic, but that is the one place where you will hear some hot and smoking little moments, too.
Overall, this is a success for the band and I hope that more new people will give the band the time.

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