Evil Masquerade - Welcome To The Show
Evil Masquerade hails from Sweden and Denmark, and are playing neoclassical metal, touching the outer realms of normal power- and heavy metal, and are safely moving within the narrow standards of the style. The members are gathered together from existing bands such as Royal Hunt, Wuthering Heights and Manticora among others. Guest appearances on the keyboard are made by Mats Olausson (Yngwie Malmsteen), André Andersen (Royal Hunt) and Richard Andersson (Majestic, Time Requiem, Space Odyssey). The music is very neat, adjusted and convenient to suit and please everyone. Most of the times uptempo, the usual scales are used, verses and refrains are following the blueprint of how a successful song in this genre is written. There is a lot of early Yngwie Malmsteen to be found in this, of course, as it is practicaly inevitable for a band like this to not touch those areas and use that as a base to stand on.
They are spanning within the range of faster tunes songs with a good flow, and more heavier songs with a more focus on riffs, but with good tempo maintained all along the way. The latter ones work well in my ears, with The Wind Will Rise and Children Of The Light as peaks, while faster songs that are almost scaringly similar to some Yngwie compositions (Surprises In The Dark, for example), are too standardized too really make an impact. Man, the refrain is almost a carbon copy of a lot of songs in this genre that have been released over the years, and especially one specific from an early Yngwie album. The sound is good and clear, and the guitars are heavy and I like that part of the music. The solo work by Henrik Flyman is splendid, but the same goes for that: it is the same, worn out scales, licks, passages as we have heard plenty of over the years. There are apperantly a few combination of notes that exactly every neoclassical guitarist have to play in his songs. I hear it every single time on an album in this genre, and this is no exception.
I like the usage of short, actual classical pieces forged into the songs here and there, as well as some minor odd touches, for example some theatrical and tiny orchestral elements, but they are too seldom present. "Theatrical Metal" is actually how they are promoting themselves in the metal scene. I can agree to some extent, but in order for that phrase to be justified in this context, it would require a lot more innovation and implementation of other elements than there are now. One might also think that the aforementioned guest keyboardists would provide a nice touch to the music, but the fact is that it is hardly noticable at all. It is all very held back in the sound picture, and if I had not seen the names on paper beforehand, I doubt that I would have noticed they were present.
Well performed, good musicianship, and some highlights that keep them on the right side of averageness, and there is actually not anything bad to say about this album, as it really never hits any really low marks. Nevertheless, it still feels a bit too anonymous and standard and the materialnever really gets to you. If it weren't for the sometimes pretty fat riffs, and the occasional brilliant guitar solo, this would be filed under the category "one-time spinners". The album did in fact grow on me after a few listenings, and it seemingly started to take form, but after yet a few spins, it kind of fell back a bit again. It's well worth checking out if you are a real fan of the genre, but don't expect anything breathtaking.