|Review: Mob Rules - Ethnolution A.D.|
Year released: 2006
Genre: Power Metal
Review online: April 30, 2008
Reviewed by: Larry Griffin
Rated 3.13/5 (62.67%) (15 Votes)
These guys were such a fun little band on their first album. Savage Land had pretty much everything I like in Power Metal; originality, tight songwriting and musicianship, some heaviness, an abundance of cool riffs, and catchy, anthemic choruses. But that's all out the window on Ethnolution A.D., which is admittedly not an inherently bad album. We can't fault a band for following their natural instinct to progress further. A band is not merely an outlet that exists to please a body of hungry, irritable fans, but rather a living, breathing entity that expresses itself through music and words, and thus it is inevitable that they will change their sound, as Mob Rules have done. That's not the problem.
No, the problem with this album is that it just isn't a great attempt at "progression." Mob Rules are stretching their creative legs here, and you can tell they put a lot of work into Ethnolution A.D., but the music here is lacking. It's very keyboard-oriented, mature, dramatic music with choirs and time changes and the whole nine yards, with polished production and solid performances from everyone on board, but it's lacking. Mob Rules are trying far too hard to create some sort of genre-defining masterwork, and they're setting their sights higher than that of the material they can actually put out. They're a good band, yes, but not an amazing one, and part of good songwriting is knowing your limitations, which Mob Rules clearly don't. You can't build a skyscraper with 2x4 planks and hammers and nails.
The band even sounds hesitant here a lot of the time; restrained and held back, as if they aren't sure where they're going next. As if they feel like they're messing with things they don't understand, afraid of getting something wrong. Klaus Dirks' voice is better than ever here, but he doesn't really put everything he has into his performance; anyone can tell. The instrumentation is sparkling with prowess, but it doesn't invigorate or excite, merely serving as sort of a "wow" factor for a few bemused nods of impression. There are plenty of good moments here, such as the first song "Unholy War," which is as good of a song as any Mob Rules ever wrote, except you'd be expecting it to follow with some top-notch Metal mastery as on the debut. But that never happens, and all we get after that is a lot of pomped up, watered down slush. The chorus to "The Last Farewell" is pretty cool, as is the one to "Fuel to the Fire," but the music doesn't hold up. The last song, "Better Morning," is a very well done ballad, and it's honestly a step above the rest of the drivel on here. Everything else here ranges from unmemorable to more unmemorable, and will be forgotten accordingly.
Mob Rules are not a good enough band to progress from their more primitive roots in Savage Land, and while this new album is listenable, it is not remarkable in any sense of the word, and fans of any sort of metal with actual firepower to it can safely avoid this. Not bad, but bland and will not leave much of an impact on you. Utterly unmemorable.
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