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Karelia: Golden Decadence

Five years on from their Restless release and French eclecto-rockers Karelia are back with album number five, Golden Decadence. When I say back, what I actually mean is a couple of Karelia are back, with only singer Matt Kleiber (he also handles FX and there are plenty of them) and guitarist Jack Ruetsch actually return, with newcomers Sam Clauss (guitars), Phil Sissler (bass) and Fr-edd Seller (drums) now completing the line-up. However Golden Decadence certainly doesn't sound like a band settling in, instead being a bold confident, if not always sure-footed step from a band never easy to pigeon-hole into one genre box or another. It makes for enigmatic if not exactly essential listening, that offers up something a little different, while still somehow being exactly the same. Everything from Rammstein to Avantasia, Scorpions to Primal Fear belts past, huge exploding drums blasting, vocals growling, howling, soaring; melody pouring forth, while sing along choruses bounce off gritty abrasive riffs. On occasion it is completely compelling, at points utterly superfluous, although impressively it is never boring. A little left of centre undoubtedly, sometimes so far so that it soars straight past the point, however it also from time to time lands fairly, squarely and effortlessly slap bang in the bull's eye.

The hugely melodic synth dweeps and scything guitars of "Ride It Wild" is a great shot of where this album works, the melody never sacrificing the aggression, the brutality never blunting the accessibility. Add to that some classy, poised guitar playing during a restrained break-down and there's a maturity on show that straight power metal usually lacks. That said the attempt at chest puffing posturing on "Body's Falling Apart" goes in completely the opposite direction, never quite being one thing or another. In the end being too tame for metal of power, too bristling for melodic rock and too sweet for industro-metal. This however is the price paid by a band desperate to be everything and none of the above, walking a tightrope thin line between success and failure. Other winners appear in the shape of "Bill For The Ride" and "Vanity Label", while "Animals" and "War Party" prove to be also-rans.

Not an album that works from start to finish, there's still enough about the music of Karelia that makes each visit worthwhile and while the satisfaction levels can vary wildly from song, their wide ranging outlook deserves to be taken notice of.

Track Listing
1. Bill For The Ride
2. War Party
3. Animals
4. Vanity Label
5. Housekeeper
6. Keep Watch On Me
7. The Way Across The Hills
8. Ride It Wild
9. Body's Falling Apart
10. Out For A Walk
11. Child Has Gone (bonus)
12. Unbreakable Cordon (bonus)

Added: April 15th 2013
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Karelia Online
Hits: 1842
Language: english

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