|Review: Gaia Epicus - Damnation|
Label: Epicus Records
Year released: 2008
Genre: Power Metal
Review online: April 18, 2010
Reviewed by: Larry Griffin
Rated 3/5 (60%) (3 Votes)
In every genre of metal, and music as a whole, you get some bands that just don't work, even for as hard as they try. Some people just...don't have that natural songwriting spark that turns decent music making into good stuff. However, with hard work and perseverance, even mediocre bands can churn out stuff that's cool and a hell of a lot of fun. Just by pushing themselves hard enough, even bands without that natural chemistry and creative spark can make albums worth listening to. Now, for those of you who have read my reviews in the past, you'll know that when I start off with a statement like this, the band I'm reviewing is usually the exact opposite of the qualities I'm listing. Can you guess if that's true this time?
What's that? You think it is? Well, you're just a fucking genius, aren't you?
I mean, seriously, this shit is like the musical equivalent of that fat lady you see at the supermarket with ten kids behind her and another one already on the way. Gaia Epicus just keeps pumping out albums. Who the hell is buying them? Damnation is the fourth one, released in 2008, there's a new one out this year and I can't figure out who's actually buying this stuff. Are people really that rabidly in need of more bands like Running Wild, Gamma Ray and early Rage that they would resort to the lowest common denominator set by bands like this? It's seriously baffling. It's not like this is the worst out there, but I just don't see any reason to get this. Maybe it's just people who aren't familiar with the band; that think it's going to be something cool. But it's not. It's Power Metal as formulaic as it gets. We got generic speed metal riffs, hamfisted attempts at being epic, cheese-fest nasally vocals with no power, and cliché titles like "Firestorm" and "The Wizard's Return"...woah, I didn't know people actually even used that last one. I thought that was just something people who made fun of this genre would say.
Even without the obvious weaknesses in the production, the songwriting is just stale and underdone. Thomas Hansen's voice sounds like a dead ringer for Peavy from Rage, as I said, and he does nothing to stand out or make himself seem more interesting than his compatriot. Except sing without any real power, that is. He sounds like he has a head cold. The riffs are decent enough, but they're strung together in such a boring, hammy, half-assed Power Metal way that it's hard to care at all. Every melody is stuffed full of notes like a Thanksgiving turkey, and all that's missing is the actual hooks to pull in the listener; what a load of dumb. But I guess it could be worse. The songwriting isn't godawful and the band remains pretty listenable throughout most of this. It's just the general sloppy feel of this, the sort of annoyingly under-produced and under-written feel it has. Unabashed charm can only take a band so far, and making good music requires a little more thought put into it than this has.
Fuck it, I'm wrapping this up fast. "Cyborgs in Hell" and "You Are a Liar" are, I'm pretty sure, directly stealing melodies from Gamma Ray and Rage respectively, although I can't remember for the life of me which ones. Although I can't deny the guilty pleasure of listening to "Cyborgs in Hell" with its cheesy as all get out vocal lines, or "Masters of the Sea," which despite sounding silly as shit, has some damn fine riffing. But that's all they are; guilty pleasures because the hooks are so damn cute, not because they're well written Power Metal songs. And then you get the boring title track and the even more boring "Firestorm," too. "A Hero in All" and "The Savior" are interchangeably weak and faceless as can be, and the last song is aptly titled "Salvation is Here," and indeed it is, as I can now go home and stop listening to this.
This is just lame. The songs aren't exciting, they aren't catchy, the vocals aren't good and there's a million riffs, melodies and vocal parts that were stolen from much better bands. Frankly, this album cooked up so little of a pulse in me that I don't even feel like dignifying it with a proper ending. Skip this.
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