|Review: Outworld - Outworld|
Label: Replica Records
Year released: 2006
Genre: Progressive Metal
Review online: May 25, 2008
Reviewed by: Larry Griffin
Rated 4.67/5 (93.33%) (15 Votes)
A lot of the time, I hear something like the following cited as requirements for the Ideal Metal Band: crunchy riffs, high pitched vocals belting out cool lyrics, long guitar solos, a crystal clear production and progressive tendencies. You know, a sort of "lots of good things together at once = good final product" sort of thing. Outworld is a bit of an oddity in that they are pretty much exactly this, not varying their style or buying into any shitty gimmickery or even employing power ballads or any other variant from the straight-ahead Metal head basher. This is their debut album, featuring such names as Rusty Cooley on guitars and the inimitable Kelly Carpenter on vocals, and it has been getting ballyhooed left and right as a Progressive Masterpiece. Now, I don't consider it any sort of masterpiece, but as to its quality overall?
To be completely fair, calling this album overrated or anything of the sort wouldn't be saying much; it still kicks heaps more ass than most Prog bands manage to do in their entire career. Outworld don't do anything but deliver the goods here, and that is pretty respectable on all fronts. They play an instantly likable and furiously intricate style of metal that comes off as a highly refreshing brand of Power Metal, Progressive Metal and a few doses of 80s classic Metal, with a monstrous production job, light traces of keys and complex riffwork and time changes riddled throughout. The whole band is very good here, but they are mostly eclipsed by two warring titans: Kelly Carpenter's vocals are more straightforward and less digitized than on Beyond Twilight's Section X, and he is an absolute highlight here. His voice is that of pure molten steel, and on this album he gives a performance for the ages, with very cool lyrics to boot. Rusty Cooley is a great guitarist, and while he might show off a bit, I don't condemn that sort of thing like others do, especially not when the showing off is woven into such good songs as these.
Speaking of songwriting, goddamn, do these guys ever know how to write a fucking Metal song. They don't fuck around with useless interludes, they don't stretch things out longer than they need to be (yes, even though they have 9 minute songs on here), and they seem to be wholly focused on one mission objective: kicking ass. And yet, to the joy of the many who cite "repetition" as a detractor of such metal barbarians as Paragon and Grave Digger (i.e. idiots, but whatever, that is a whole other review), Outworld never grow stagnant or boring, and every song is easily distinguishable from the last, with towering riff arrangements and time changes and the whole nine yards. As I said before, this is pretty much everything you could ask for from a Prog band, and it does what it intends to do quite well, boasting powerful songs like "Raise Hell," with Carpenter's show-stopping shrieks, "Warcry," which has a crackling lightning-bolt of a verse, the title track, showcasing the more progressive side of Outworld, and the epochal "I, Thanatos," with its dark, foreboding lyrics and incredible vocal performance. Every song here rules, though, so all I can do is recommend this one. I can't honestly picture a fan of Heavy, Power or Prog Metal disliking it.
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