Evil Masquerade - Third Act
Take your places everyone, the Third Act of this Evil Masquerade is about to begin. With a couple of line-up changes the band is back with their, you guessed it, third album. After a great debut with Welcome To The Show and a less good second album with Theatrical Madness it feels like they have found their home with Third Act. With a little change of direction it feels like this is how they should sound, the pieces have fallen into place and this sounds just so natural, like this is Evil Masquerade.
Like a fresh gust of wind the album starts, after the intro, with the title track Third Act, a speedy and catchy tune with the theatrical elements you could expect of Evil Masquerade. I particularly like the little Danny Elfman (the composer to Tim Burton's movies) twists they put in their music and the fact that the music is darker then on the earlier albums. I feared that the change of vocalist would harm the band, not that Apollo Papathanasio is a bad vocalist, quite the contrary, but Henrik Brockman seemed to be the perfect guy for Evil Masquerade. Although with the slight change of direction to a more Rainbow inspired music Apollo turned out to be splendid for this part. In the Kamelot sounding track The Dark Minstrel Plays where Apollo puts some, in likeness with Dio, pressure in his voice combined, like in this case, with the faster songs I find Evil Masquerade to be completely irresistible.
The music feels to be more progressive now as well as darker, still with a large theatrical sense though but it also feels more mature and more complete, and you still find the flirting with classical music here and there. There appears to be a lot of Rainbow (the Dio period) and Black Sabbath (the Dio and the Tony Martin period) in Evil Masquerade these days, take I'll Make You Burn for instance. It is a slow and heavy track with strong vocals, it is actually as good as it could have been taken from either Heaven And Hell or Mob Rules, as it is in style with the mightier tracks from those albums, magnificent. If we carry on we have Under The Surface Of Water where you have a playful tune with the theatrical essence as well as some folk inspired melodies and this is a song that Ritchie Blackmore should have been proud having composed.
Keyboards, I don't know who is playing what between the two guests but the standard is very, very high, but what could you expect with, once again, Richard Andersson (Time Requiem) and David Rosenthal (Rainbow, Malmsteen, Steve Vai, Whitesnake) behind the keys. The interaction between keys and guitar are performed in a splendid manor, take Descended From The Grave as an example where they work wonderfully together. With the musicians I cant do other then to hand out all aces for performance and musicianship, and another thing that I like with Evil Masquerade is how guitarist Henrik Flyman throws in those little wonderful melody-lines every now and then.
At first I was going to say that the only real downside with the Third Act was the ending ballad that I at first found rather boring, it was like "let's hook arms everybody and sway back and forth now". However, as I listened it became obvious as the songs went on that I have to praise their Queen influences instead. So even if it is not any of their stronger songs, the Queen part of it makes it to good to just easily put off as just another boring ballad as I otherwise like to do with those kind of songs. I do not find a killer song like The Wind Will Rise that appeared on their first album but here on the Third Act I am instead struck by the amazing high and even quality of the album.