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Japanese street date: December 25th 2013.
With a span of seven and a half years from the band's latest record, When Eden Burns, I thought we were up for a rather big step of change. A few band members have been focusing on other bands such as Savage Circus, Dark Empire and Guillotine, still some of the melodies are somewhat similar to the past and the progress since above mentioned record is barely noticeable, which in this case is much to my delight I might say.
Once called Blind Guardian's rediscovered little brother, mostly because of the resemblances to Hansi Kürsch in lead vocalist Jens Carlsson's style of singing. Those resemblances already decreased on the previous album, but are still present to some degree. Just listen to the pre-chorus and chorus of the title track if you want to find out for yourself and take a further look at the guitar play for more similarities in those parts too. This is nothing that bothers me and the record's total outcome would still be valid with or without these small counterparts.
Carlsson's voice can occasionally make this album seem a bit monotonous as well, although his voice seems to be in symbiosis with a supreme feeling for forceful efficiency, as he possess an awesome and an almost divine ability to create monstrous and impactful killer choruses. His efforts are backed up by tons of heavy, stunning and definite riffs, as well as stylish and precise harmony plays that find their way to my inner senses. The drum play is often furious and blasting, but mainly thunderous and dominating with a sound I enjoy.
The Fiction Maze shows pretty much rather brutal, dictating and resolute power metal, if that type of music is possible or even existing, that is. The songs are mostly killer and I definitely have a hard time to pick as few as four tracks for Staff's pick. It took a while for the album to flourish, but when it did there was no turning back from success. All songs aren't state of the art to every single point, yet this album is an excellent start of the new year and I truly believe that this one will end up on my top 10 list when I finalize the results at the end of 2014.