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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

John Tapella

Excalibur

Review by Gary Hill

This album is good, but a bit uneven. While there are a few tracks that are just plain awesome, there are also several that are far too generic to really please. The style of the disc seems poised somewhere between heavy metal and classic rock, with a bit of progressive rock thrown into the mix.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Metal Warrior

This is a powerful cut that seems to combine the sounds of Rainbow with more progressive rock elements. The mix feels a bit awkward somehow, though, from a production point of view. Still, it’s a cool piece of music. There’s a spoken section towards the end that calls to mind the spoken sections from Rush’ Caress of Steel album. 

Race Car Driver
A more straight forward (and rather raw) approach drives this piece. It’s got a definite 80s metal element to it. All that said, it’s still a cool tune that’s a lot of fun.
Space Girl
I’m not overly crazy about this tune. It’s not bad, just pretty generic and a little lackluster. It’s kind of like classic rock taken to a very trite extreme. There is a cool little spacey outro, though.
Excalibur
A dramatic mellow guitar segment opens this number. It shifts out to a more purely metallic piece, but this is the most interesting number to this point. It’s got some killer musical elements and combines an epic metal approach with old school heavy metal. I like this a lot. I can hear some hints of King Diamond on this.
Give Me Your Love
Here’s another that’s a bit on the generic side. It’s not as bad as “Space Girl,” though, coming in more along the lines of “Race Car Driver.” There is a bit of a Montrose meets 80s metal element to this piece.
Avalon
The opening here is delicate and classically oriented. It’s very progressive in nature. Female vocals come over the top and the track works through in a very Renaissance (the time period) kind of way until about two-minutes into the proceedings. Crunchy guitar joins and the song starts to build and grow from there. It still retains a classical element, but is also quite metallic in nature. It drops back to the earlier female vocal section after a while. That segment takes it out. This is possibly the best track on show.
Lovely Lady
Somehow this makes me think of Spinal Tap. It’s not bad, but a bit generic.
I'm Crying
Here’s another highlight of the set. Powerful and complex, at times this feels a little like Yes. It’s very prog-like and features both male and female vocals. It never really turns metal, but it gets more crunchy later. This is really pure progressive rock.
Sabre Dance
Here is a short instrumental, Tapella’s take on the old chestnut. It’s classy and cool.
Reaper Girl
Another track that’s a bit too generic, the vocals here remind me of Bob Rivers Twisted Christmas’ “Santa’s Hells Bells.” It’s a good tune, but not one of the best. There’s a melodic section that’s stronger and helps to elevate the piece, though.
 
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