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Review: Zandelle - Flames of Rage
Flames of Rage

Label: Pure Steel Records
Year released: 2009
Duration: 70:15
Tracks: 9
Genre: Heavy Metal

Rating: 4.75/5

Review online: June 19, 2009
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Readers Rating
Flames of Rage

Rated 4.18/5 (83.64%) (11 Votes)

This is one I didn't expect. Zandelle have been putting out downright boring albums for so long it has become kind of proverbial. All their albums sound pretty much the same: they take all the elements of good Heavy Metal and just fail to put them together in any kind of compelling way. Zandelle have all the pieces, but they never seemed able to create anything awesome out of them. I thought their last album Vengeance Rising was pretty decent, but that was as far as it went. This is all by way of background to point up how surprised I am that this new album is totally fucking kickass.

Zandelle have not changed their style at all, and there's no lineup change we can attribute this to, it's like they just finally figured out how to do it. Flames Of Rage sounds like any other Zandelle album, except the songwriting is almost pure gold. Opener "Killing Gaze" is not the best tune on here, but it still shows that Zandelle have finally gotten their shit together, harnessing chugging metal riffs to twin-ax harmonies and galloping rhythms. The musicianship is solid, with better riffs and leads than ever before, and even singer George Tsalikis has stepped up his game considerably. He's not great, never will be, but he's learned to work within his limits and to really sell a song, as he carries the show with much more charisma than I thought he had in him. Second track "Broken Trust" is where this album starts really kicking your ass, and it doesn't really ever let up. One of the things I love about this disc is that it is unabashed, unapologetic Heavy Metal – no gimmicks or nods to modern trends in sight anywhere, this thing just gallops and crunches and chugs like goddamned metal war machine.

And it keeps going, with not one weak song, no ballads, no boring parts. The songs are mostly between the five and nine minute range, and they never drag or go on too long. They are just packed with heavy, pounding riffs and enough hooks to catch a fleet of sharks. I saw that the album closer "Eradicated Existence" was twenty-one freaking minutes long and I literally groaned, sure it was going to be six minutes of song, then fourteen minutes of space-wasting silence, followed by maybe a minute of some stupid sound effects or something, but no. "Eradicated Existence" is a genuine twenty-one minute song, an example of epic metal songwriting on a grand scale. I don't know if it had to be as long as it is, but it's not boring, and it is deeply impressive that they actually manage to pull it off.

Defying all expectations, Flames Of Rage is over an hour of thundering Heavy Metal awesomeness, and nobody is happier to see a second rate band really knock the shit out of it than me. I think we have a good candidate for album of the year here, and that it comes from Zandelle is something I never expected. Do not miss this album.

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