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Review: Forte - Stranger than Fiction
Stranger than Fiction

Label: Massacre Records
Year released: 1992
Duration: 33:58
Tracks: 10
Genre: Power/Thrash

Rating: 4.25/5

Review online: December 9, 2011
Reviewed by: Nahsil
Readers Rating
Stranger than Fiction

Rated 4.11/5 (82.22%) (9 Votes)

Forte's debut came highly recommended from a trusted source, and being a huge fan of power/thrash (when proficiently written), I was compelled to hear it. Stranger than Fiction, as it turns out, completely eclipsed my expectations. This is pure, mayhemic technical thrash with a talented singer leading the way. Rhythmically ear-catching and simultaneously sophisticated riffs wind their way around the aural stage as the ridiculous bass playing chugs on, never a one-off bass run thrown in for extra points, but a completely independent (and somehow still very organically involved with the rest of the music), complex instrument of melody on its own. The songwriting is just fantastic, speeding along a very fine line between those Watchtower and possibly Coroner kind of guitar wizard antics and a more easily digested straightforward thrash style. Things rarely if ever descend into mere showing off, maintaining an incredible slightly progressive tinge without abandoning the classic headbanging gallop (lots of varied and always spot-on drumming toward this end) with which thrash is associated. What you'll find here is truly impressive musicianship married to equally unforgettable and mature songwriting.

Singer James Randel rounds the material out with an impeccable voice for a power/thrash unit of this kind. Think the capability, restraint and control of James Rivera but with heavier thrash stylings and less power metal (the U.S. variety) soaring or vocal focus, except perhaps in the last track. The comparison is lacking, as Randel's tone is overall very different from the Helstar frontman, but he does possess many of the same strong-suits. What's remarkable is the fact that he's got a great voice, but for the most part stays reined in, content to sing thrash with traces of a more melodic approach rather than straight power or heavy metal, when it's obvious he could pull off a more elaborate performance if he so desired.

The tracks are all short and to the point, but not without a good deal of room to breathe as far as experimentation with structure is concerned. The "G-13 (Devoid of Thought)" interlude is very well done, breaking up the speedy thrash onslaught with a well-composed and emotionally affecting minute of what sounds like guitar tapping and bass.

I can hardly recommend this enough to fans of classic '80s metal, be it USPM, thrash or heavy metal. All three genres are paid service to; Stranger than Fiction is a fine starting point in Forte's career.

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