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Almanac: Tsar

When I read the news last year that guitarist Victor Smolski and vocalist/bass player Peter "Peavy" Wagner had decided to part ways and also with drummer Andre Hilgers thus ending the current line-up of the metal group Rage I certainly wasn't happy. Since joining Rage in 1999 his guitar playing was such a draw card on albums like Unity, Soundchaser, Speak Of The Dead and Strings Of A Web and someone this talented simply doesn't come along every day. As a result Wagner continues on with Rage recruiting a new guitarist and drummer, he also has the Lingua Mortis Orchestra (LMO) a symphonic metal group, whilst Smolski started another symphonic power metal group titled Almanac. As with LMO Almanac also incorporates the use of multiple vocalists and an actual orchestra.

If you enjoyed Smolki's contributions to Rage then you really do need to hear this album. The title of Alamanac's debut is Tsar and the subject matter includes that of Ivan the terrible Russia's first Tsar. Smolski's scorching guitar work is on show and he once again proves that he can also groove with the best of them, Almanac's rhythm section is also outstanding Michael Kolar sure is one killer drummer his playing on tracks like "Flames Of Hate" just highlight that. Besides all that exciting and engrossing power metal/classic music one of the key reasons this album works so well is the fantastic combination of vocalists David Readman (Pink Cream 69), Andy B. Franck (Brainstorm) and Jeannette Marchewka. The powerful title track "Tsar" opens as the band grooves it up metal style and Smolski sinks in the big hooks, and the following energetic power metal track "Self-Blinded Eyes" is a simply stunning track that has it all with such a moving chorus that I can't stop revisiting and easily one of my favorite songs of 2016. "Darkness" is the brief and quite the atmospheric introduction for the potent metal track "Hands Are Tied". I've written in the past how Smolski's playing makes me think that he is in part the Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme) of power metal and that he does again smoking it up on "Children Of The Future". As Smolki was a contributor to Rage there are similarities to the sound of that era of band with Almanac, with the main difference of course being the vocals and really I see nothing wrong if that continues as the latest version of Rage returns to their earlier more straightforward sound giving us the best of both worlds. Tsar really is one of 2016 most impressive debuts and I can't wait to hear what Almanac follows this album up with.


Track Listing
1. Tsar
2. Self-Blinded Eyes
3. Darkness
4. Hands Are Tied
5. Children Of The Future
6. No More Shadows
7. Nevermore
8. Reign Of Madness
9. Flames Of Hate

Added: December 26th 2016
Reviewer: Scott Jessup
Score:
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 684
Language: english

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