|Review: Alpha Tiger - Beneath the Surface|
|Beneath the Surface|
Label: Century Media
Year released: 2013
Genre: Heavy Metal
Review online: April 20, 2013
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
for:Beneath the Surface
Alpha Tiger's debut was a highly enjoyable slice of retro Heavy Metal, inviting comparisons to classic Fates Warming or Steel Prophet with infectious twin-axe riffing and Stephan "Heiko" Dietrich's air-raid vocal stylings. It got them a lot of attention and secured a Century Media contract for the follow up, Beneath the Surface.
If you like the last one, this is an obvious development of the style, with slightly more sprawling arrangements that hark back more to the NWOBHM than the more US-sounding debut. The production is better, with more punch and separation and a great mix. The glossier job does serve to point up Dietrich's limitations as a vocalist. He's got an effortless upper range, but his tone and phrasing leave something to be desired. He's been compared to Steel Prophet's Rick Mythiasin, but he's really not in the same class, and there's no arguing with that. His vocal melodies remain satisfying and hooky, and his style is beautifully fitted to their 80s sound, so there's a tradeoff.
Some of these tunes are a bit too complex and go on a bit, but from the singable pleasures of opener "The Alliance" to the compulsive title track, Alpha Tiger are never even a little bit dull. The parts they cram together to make their songs don't always fit, but they are all good. The main riff on "Along the Rising Sun", in particular, is one of the sweetest licks you will hear all year.
I like this album a lot, but it lacks some of the energy of the debut, and I don't like it as much as I hoped I would. Still, a fine sophomore album from a band with enormous potential. Great guitar work highlights a big, meaty album with a lot to enjoy.
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