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Human Zoo: Eyes of the Stranger

Unlike most of the bands who've jumped on the "melodic heavy metal revival" bandwagon, Human Zoo are not from Scandinavian soil. They're actually from Balingen, Germany, but make no mistake - these guys can certainly compete with the hordes of melodic heavy metal bands coming out of Sweden. On the band's third and most recent effort, Eyes of the Stranger, they sport a unique sound that differentiates them from their Swedish counterparts with enough memorable hooks and choruses to satisfy every melodic heavy metal fan. This isn't a particularly challenging release, and those who crave complexity in their music will probably feel a bit underwhelmed - but if you're looking for a well-played, high-quality album with enough memorable hooks to keep you busy for a long time, Eyes of the Stranger is an easy recommendation.

Human Zoo plays a style of melodic hard rock/heavy metal with plenty of AOR tendencies. This is a very commercial-sounding album, and the frequent saxophone solos further emphasize the band's AOR influence. Eyes of the Stranger is generally a very "inoffensive" album - it doesn't ever "rock out" too hard, the keyboard tones are generally on the more restrained side, and virtually every song follows a similar verse-chorus-verse structure. This shouldn't at all be taken as a bad thing, however. Human Zoo is a group of talented musicians and songwriters, and every track strikes me as a hit-worthy melodic heavy metal song. It does feel a bit too formulaic at times, but I certainly don't deny quality - and that's exactly what we have here. The fantastic production courtesy of Chris Lausmann also sounds crisp, professional, and well-done.

All in all, Eyes of the Stranger is a very successful effort from Human Zoo that I'd readily recommend to any melodic hard rock/heavy metal fan. I do think it could use a bit more variation and experimentation, but the great compositions, fantastic musicianship, and powerful production make this one an easy winner regardless. Eyes of the Stranger is simply a quality album, and anyone who wants that in their melodic heavy metal should look no further. 3.5 stars are well-deserved.

Track Listing:
01. Amy & Allison's Memories
02. The Answer
03. Gimme Your Time
04. To The Top
05. Everything Changes
06. Eyes Of The Stranger
07. Fall In Love
08. World Behind You
09. Hold & Care
10. Want It Love It Like It
11. Welcome To Paradise
12. 10.000 Years Ago

Added: August 21st 2011
Reviewer: Jeff B
Related Link: Human Zoo Website
Hits: 2392
Language: english

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Human Zoo: Eyes of the Stranger
Posted by Brian Block, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-08-21 18:35:27
My Score:

Human Zoo is a German traditional heavy metal band that has finally had a break through album with the release of Eyes of the Stranger. Unlike most bands that fall under the melodic heavy metal genre, Human Zoo is not a Scandinavian band. Besides great melodic passages fitted together with great rock and metal compositions, Human Zoo has more than a few tricks up their sleeves. One of those is the addition of a saxophone. The saxophone, which is evident on most of the songs, adds a nice 60's/ 70's blues rock type feel to the album. This is especially evident on the opening of "Everything Changes", which could've been taken straight out of the 70's.

Eyes of the Stranger is definitely very light metal, leaning very closely towards hard rock, but there are enough heavy metal tendencies to win over fans of the metal genre. Though this isn't your typical traditional metal release from the likes of Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, and other old, and new heavy bands, this release is great listening and it has some great moments on it too. Mostly the guitars provide the enjoyment, though sometimes it's the keyboards or saxophone. This album never gets too heavy in a general sense, but it does have its heavier moments. Like in the beginning of "The Answer" where the main guitar riff could've been taken straight out of Operation: Mindcrime. Also there are some power metal tendencies in the drums, though not often.

The musicianship on this album is no doubt superb on this album. The saxophone playing by Boris Matakovic is great, and being a sax player myself I can really appreciate how good of a musician he is. Everyone else on the album is equally as good, especially the singer, Thomas Seeburger, and the guitarist, Ingolf Engler.

Overall this album is very finely produced and performed. Though this album is a bit commercialized it provides entertainment, and every track is a great melodic heavy metal composition. Eyes of the Stranger easily gets 3.5 stars.

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