I must admit that the nauseatingly cheesy cover art of Eagleheart’s Reverse started things off on a sour note for me; it’s been said that you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, but if the cover is a derivative space/time/human-enlightenment themed mess of computer generated imagery, I can’t help but get a little picky. Much to my surprise, however, Eagleheart transcended my premature judgements and overcame the crippled leg that I mentally assigned their newest release. Don’t misunderstand me: Reverse is still cheesy modern pseudo-progressive power metal, but more important than any labels I could assign it, it’s great.
While not totally uncharacteristic of power metal, it still took me a bit to get used to the vocals being the center of the music. The riffs tend to be simplistic and chuggy, and while that’s technically unimpressive, it carries the singing along perfectly until it’s time for a solo. Reverse is packed with solos; some are better than others, but they do what a solo should do, and that’s act as a bridge between two different parts of a given song and prevent it from getting too repetitive. The contrast between the bare-bones guitar lines that accompany the lyrics and the intricate, attention-grabbing solos works out nicely and actually justifies the chuggy nature of the former. I tend to be opposed to the percussive riffing style as it’s almost (dare I say it) lazy, but Eagleheart found a way to make it work. It still gets a bit grating to hear, but there’s sufficient evidence within this album that the guitarists are, in fact, talented musicians.
The vocals are the crème de la crème within the context of Reverse. Multiple vocalists always helps to bulk up the sound, but Roman Sácek in particular has an incredible range with ample emotion demonstrated. The Czech accent gives it character as well. But as the vocals tend to float to the frontline, there’s a comforting wall of layered instruments always ready right behind them. The electronic/artificial atmosphere that’s conjured by the use of synths is generally what fills the holes between the drums, bass, and guitar, and the thematic consistency of it all does a lot to establish a definitive sound.
Eagleheart, I think it would be fair to say, is the epitome of the modern approach to power metal. Nothing here is really a throwback to the old school scene, but the band is content with their modern approach and I really respect that. I’m not sure if Reverse is an album that I’ll be revisiting too often, but I’m glad I heard it and I encourage those that enjoy the cleaner side of metal to check it out themselves.
Reverse is now available via Scarlet Records.