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Review: Symphorce - PhorcefulAhead

Label: Metal Blade Records
Year released: 2002
Duration: 47:03
Tracks: 10
Genre: Power Metal

Rating: 4.75/5

Review online: June 26, 2009
Reviewed by: Christopher Foley
Readers Rating

Rated 4.2/5 (84%) (10 Votes)

This was my first taste of Symphorce, having previously enjoyed Brainstorm (you can never mention one without the other.) Cramming PhorcefulAhead into my CD player I was immediately captivated with the great sounding acoustic introduction to "Speak My Mind" - an awesome track that crushes you with a slow to mid pace. The guitars spit out a mean tone obviously with down-tuned strings – seriously the guitars sound like a mountain crashing down. However you can't have a good tone without top class players behind them, tearing it up with Symphorce we have ex-Freedom Call axe-slinger Cedric Dupont and Mystic Prophecy riff-master Markus Pohl – both immensely cool players who really deliver the goods. A decent foundation is provided for these guys courtesy of Dennis Wohlbold (bass) and Sascha Sauer (drums), the mechanics keeping the metal machine that is Symphorce raging on. "Unbroken" opens with an immense riff crushing you where you stand, and Andy's powerful vocals truly soar throughout. A brilliant chorus and tasty solo secure this track as a personal highlight of mine in an album that's pretty much full of highlights.

Certainly one of the more powerful Power Metal bands, Symphorce can be categorized along with acts such as Angel Dust, Tad Morose and obviously Brainstorm. However I've always felt Symphorce brought a little more to the table than Brainstorm. Their songs bear more meaning and longevity to me whereas Brainstorm can sometimes become relegated to background noise. Having previously mentioned how enjoyable the guitar tone is, I believe it’s worth commenting on the lead guitar work – never flashy or 100 notes per-second they have some truly great melodies and solos you can hum and ha to, something a lot of acts seem to neglect. Listen to the mastery of the mid section of "Slow Down" with its sublime guitar work or the beautiful dual guitar solo in "Longing Home" – another riff-tastic track. "Moving in Circles" is a definite favorite of mine, displaying subtle use of keyboards and really cool riffage, the vocal melodies are really catchy in an almost nursery rhyme way, although it never verges on cheesy or gay. The groovy "Touched and Infected" is another choice track bearing some insanely crushing guitar work and ridiculously catchy chorus. "Rage of Violence" is a really intense track with some scorching riffage, quite similar to a Brainstorm track although legions cooler. PhorcefulAhead is a damn fine release; arguably Symphorce's best and in my honest opinion I believe they've yet to top it. This is as close to perfect as any release featuring Andy B. Franck and a worthy addition to any Heavy Metal fans collection, a release verging on downright essential. Recommended.

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