"Second Storm"

By Dr. Abner Mality

If you're in the mood for fast, melodic power metal, I can recommend Sweden's Lancer. Sweden always seems to produce talented and professional bands and Lancer is no exception. In fact, I would say Helloween's upcoming album would have to go a long way to beat out "Second Storm".

Helloween is really the primary influence here, but Lancer also has the touch of Hammerfall and Iron Maiden as well. The excellent clear vocals of Isak Stervall bring Joacim Cans to mind but there are places where he also reminds me of Blaze Bayley. This is a band for lovers of clean sounding power metal....those looking for raw and ugly metal would not find much to admire. But these guys do have speed and aggression in their attack...there are no sappy ballads here. The vocal melodies are very prevalent, though, and some of the tunes have a "happy" sound to them.

"Iwo Jima" was a very emotional and powerful song, played with a lot of conviction. The track is an almost perfect merger of Helloween and Iron Maiden influences, with some complex guitar interplay and strong vocals. The song "Aton" is a lengthy epic...some would say a bit too much...that has a real progressive edge to it, being almost jazzy in spots, but still pretty heavy on the whole. "Children of the Storm" and "Steelbreaker" are straightforward riffing power metal songs reminding me a bit of Primal Fear. The album ends with "Fools March On", which is such a dead ringer for prime Helloween that it could have been an out-take from "Walls of Jericho". Listen to those poppy vocal melodies.

The performances throughout are outstanding, right down to the bass and drum work. The record is a little too "sweet" in a couple of spots for me, but this is an extremely strong European power metal album in the traditional sense. The only real complaint I have is that silly looking robot ostrich on the cover...whose bright idea was that goofy thing?