PelleK: Bag of Tricks
PelleK, a talented vocalist known from such bands as Damnation Angels and The Anabasis, as well as from his participation in Norwegian edition of the popular TV show "X Factor", debuts with Bag of Tricks an album that is on one hand pretty catchy and doesn't overstay its welcome, and on the other hand lacks a bite and originality to be pronounced metal masterpiece.
The pompous, almost 2 minutes long instrumental intro called "Entrance" may be a warning sign for those who like their music rough, loose or tongue-in-cheek. PelleK much prefers polished production, epic scope, sweet melodies and serious lyrics. And if this is your thing, too, then you should immediately stop reading this review and just grab this Bag of Tricks with no hesitation at all. If, however, you know you may have problems with a symphonic metal album that refuses to tread too far off the genre's beaten track please bear with me for a while. I don't mean to nitpick and I do like bits and pieces of this album quite a lot, but overall I do feel it sounds a bit too "safe" for its own good. AND it's probably also a bit too similar to recent releases from ReinXeed what with the cinematic feel of the two instrumental tracks, "Entrance" and "Bag of Tricks", sounding like outtakes off ReinXeed's this year's homage to Hollywood movies called Welcome to the Theater. I guess it was kind of inevitable with Tommy ReinXeed producing Bag of Tricks as well as playing the guitars, bass, keyboards and drums, and being responsible for the orchestration and programming. But honestly it doesn't really help establishing PelleK as a unique artist who's ripping his heart out to offer the listeners something that is truly his own.
Having said that, I must admit that there are certain pieces on Bag of Tricks that work really well, like the energetic "Fugue State" that was chosen to promote the album or the similarly springy "Reason and Psychosis" with guest vocals from Oliver Hartmann (best known from At Vance). Another highlight is the atmospheric "Stare Into My Eyes" in which PelleK sings alongside Seventh Wonder's Tommy Karevik, but unfortunately his duets with female vocalists Amanda Somerville (in "Send My Message Home") and Marit Borresen (in "Don't Belong" and "Conflagrate My Heart") are much less impressive; "Send My Message Home" sounds particularly bland and clichιd and even though I normally do like Somerville's voice this was one track I wanted to skip since the very first time I listened to the album. I never did, but it still didn't grow on me on subsequent listens.
I do realize, though, that even if Bag of Tricks is not exactly for everyone, certain listeners (especially the die-hard fans of ReinXeed, perhaps) will enjoy every single minute of it. And I pass my sincere congratulations to PelleK for that, but also hope that next time he can come up with an album that would better display his talent and would truly mark him as an original artist.
PelleK- Lead & backing vocals & keyboards
Tommy ReinXeed Guitars, bass, keyboards, backing vocals, orchestration, drums & programming
Oliver Hartmann Lead vocals on Reason and Psychosis
Marit Borresen Lead & backing vocals
Amanda Sommerville (Avantasia, Trillium) Lead vocals on Send My Message Home
Anders Ringdal Strom Acoustic guitar & lead vocals on Born In Babylon
Tommy Karevik (Seventh Wonder) - Lead vocals on Stare Into My Eyes
2. Fugue State
3. Reason And Psychosis
4. Send My Message Home
7. Don't Belong
8. Stare Into My Eyes
9. Born In Babylon
10. Bag Of Tricks
11. Conflagrate My Heart
Added: September 9th 2012
Reviewer: Bartek Paszylk
Related Link: Artist Website
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