Fade To Black is the fourth endeavour from Evil Masquerade, and why they haven't yet broken through to a wide audience feels to me a bit strange, and even unfair. Evil Masquerade is a band with routine and is filled to the brink with talent, and to genre-define Evil Masquerade is not at all easy as they leap from melodic to progressive, power to heavy metal, and neo-classical is also a very suitable word to describe their sound.
The band, lead by guitarist Henrik Flyman, has taken yet another step forward, but rather than moving on to completely unexplored areas, he is instead keeping one eye backwards picking good influences from all of the earlier albums, and one eye forward as the evolution continues in a natural way. Fade To Black is showing an even heavier side of Evil Masquerade than earlier but still the melodic sense is well maintained, and the theatrical element is still present in the music. Desire And Pain is a song that has to be mentioned, probably one of the heaviest and most evil-sounding songs Evil Masquerade has ever created, yet it is rather playful in a sense and comes out natural as simply Evil Masquerade.
Another track that is showing a heavier side is In A Dungeon Close To Hell, which is reminiscent of the Tony Martin period of Black Sabbath, as well as I Believe In Sin. They both have a lot of influences from the Headless Cross sound in them. One track that gives proof of their continuing evolution is Diamond Dust with its eastern flavour that even brings out quite some Symphony X elements. That kind of influence or similarity is a new but pleasant discovery for me in the sound of Evil Masquerade.
Henrik Flyman is surely a very talented guitarist that only seems to grow as a musician for every new album he does, and the more I think of it, the stranger I find it to be that so many people haven't heard of him or his music. The hooks and the melodies he puts in, along with all other small twists in the music, give it all a little bit more of a push and also put a delicate touch to it all. Just listen to the track Hollow Soul, where the guitar playing comes out as the perfect spawn of Kamelot's Thomas Youngblood and the mighty Ritchie Blackmore. In addition, while speaking of Rainbow, when the opening track Lights Out unleashes its attack you may easily be mislead as it practically oozes with Rainbow in this muscular display of mighty metal. This is surely a magnificent song and definitely among the best works from this band, and the guest appearance from Rainbow's own Tony Carey on keyboard makes you even more forget about which band you actually is listening to.
Evil Masquerade has grown even further as a band, and has done so even though half of the band is new to the folds, but that doesn't stop them from sounding tighter than ever. Perhaps drummer Daniel Flores (Mind's Eye) has helped the band sounding more progressive while Johan Niemann on bass (ex-Therion, Mind's Eye) has helped to create some more might, compared to their earlier musical adventures, but nevertheless they make one hell of a rhythm section. One should also mention the vocal efforts from Apollo Papathanasio (Firewind) that are flawless. He is, to say the least, a singer with a voice mighty as hell. Not thinking of names like Ronnie James Dio, Tony Martin and David Coverdale when you hear Apollo sing is almost impossible.
Once again Henrik Flyman and Evil Masquerade have released a new album that has given me, and further on will, a lot of joy, and my only objection is that the song In My Northern Dream is too short. This neo-classical filled instrumental with inspiration from Swedish folk music melancholia as played by Yngwie Malmsteen is something that I would have preferred being developed into a full-length track. But then it is only a bonus track after all. On a final note I have too say that I perhaps was too generous with my chalices to their previous album, The Third Act. Fade To Black is better even though the grade actually is set just a dash lower.