|Review: Ivanhoe - Lifeline|
Label: Silverwolf Productions
Year released: 2008
Genre: Progressive Metal
Review online: August 2, 2009
Reviewed by: Bruce Dragonchaser
Within every circle of friends, every social network, there are a couple of hangers-on that rarely contribute to monetary divisions, never suggest any wild or stimulating fantasies, and nary speak a word. Yet for reasons unknown, they latch themselves to the assemblage for a number of years, unflinching and stoic in their presence. This continues. And it even happens in the Prog Metal scene. A prime example of this determined cadre is German dreamers Ivanhoe, still, after all these years, hanging on to the dream that started them on this road to nowhere. And look at Andy B Franck now. I doubt all that touring with Brainstorm and Symphorce has him reminiscing over his days fronting this band of hopeless heroes.
For what it's worth, Ivanhoe did release one quality record after Franck's departure, and here, a number of years later, is another surprisingly pleasant outing of intelligent, articulate Melodic Prog Metal that highlights elements of many of the genre's leading lights, whilst injecting enough catchy refrains and Power Metal inflections to please members of both parties. Their clean-cut sound remains a mould of Iron Maiden, Queensryche, and Dream Theater, and in places the engaging harmonies and jagged guitar work bring to mind Black Majesty or even Vision Divine. A pleasurable tonic it may be, with a wide selection of styles and methodology to choose from – just check out the powerful title track or the fantastical "Time Machine" – but there are no innovations explored, no new ideas tried or tested, making things just a tad predicable. Vocalist Mischa Mang certainly brings a sense of class to Lifeline, as does the full, balanced production, but more is expected from a band that has subsisted as long as these guys, at least something more arresting. There have been a lot of bumps along the path to semi-success, but if Ivanhoe can acquire the right SAT-NAV system, they might just get to their destination before it's too late.
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