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Review: Excalion - Waterlines

Label: Limb Music Products
Year released: 2007
Duration: 48:26
Tracks: 10
Genre: Power Metal


Review online: May 2, 2009
Reviewed by: Larry Griffin
Readers' Rating
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Rated 4.04/5 (80.71%) (28 Votes)

I reviewed this album before, but I don't think I really captured exactly what is so good about it, so I suppose I'll just review it all over again. Excalion are an energetic and vital young Finnish Power Metal band carrying on the legacy of past greats like Stratovarius, Sonata Arctica and Twilightning. Power Metal overall is not a genre that thrives on pushing its own limits with a huge force, but rather staying relevant by making smaller and more subtle updates to the standard template over time. Where there was once high-flying choruses and speedy riffs, there are now juicy, ultra-melodic, almost hard rock-infused riffs played with attitude and conviction, and also with vocals that are as powerful as a fucking thunderbolt coming from the sky and obliterating your ears. And you know what? I like it.

Excalion are actually kind of dense here, forging songs that are catchy, but so mired in rich, creamy melody that it's tough to really crack them and understand them until you've listened a fair amount of times. I think a big part of that is the production, which puts a lot of emphasis on a strong guitar sound, being both rocky and lush at the same time - something that I think more Power Metal bands should take note of immediately. The drum sound is tremendous, too, making the whole thing sound heavy and in your face. It's just an incredibly addictive and enjoyable sound, and once it pulls you in, you won't be able to get these songs out of your head, either.

Speaking of hooks, the hooks on this album are superb! Most Power Metal is excessively catchy and hooky, so it's not like this is some kind of surprise, but really, the hooks on here are great. Jarmo Pääkkönen's voice is strong and steady, and he powers out a host of great, great choruses and verses that have a staying power that makes most other bands these days cry. The guitar melodies are also very memorable, adding a pinch of groove where needed to make things that much more memorable. In fact, Vessa Nupponen is just an excellent guitarist in general, playing with subtlety and class and never trying to steal the show. He plays with a clean finesse, and he's also very emotive guitarist, making it clear what he wants to express at all times - triumph, sadness, urgency, even fear. The keyboards are sparse and tastefully done, and the rhythm section plays out their role with pristine efficiency.

The songs themselves range from the mid-paced rockers that make up the majority of this album - standouts being the kick-ass "Arriving as the Dark," with its monster hook, the stodgy epic closer "Soaking Ground" and the uplifting "Life on Fire" - a few faster cuts like the excellent opener "The Wingman" with its aerial acrobatic melodies, and "Ivory Tower," which shows the band at full power with a hurricane of icy melodies coming from all directions and a killer chorus, and ballads, of which the superlative "I Failed You" and the Syracuse-sweet "Delta Sunrise" captialize on with excellent strength. Excalion are just getting started, and with a sophomore effort this good, I can safely say that these guys are going places. Look out for them.

More about Excalion...
Review: Emotions (reviewed by Bruno Medeiros)
Review: High Time (reviewed by Bruce Dragonchaser)
Review: High Time (reviewed by Larry Griffin)
Review: Primal Exhale (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Waterlines (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
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