(c) 2020 Independent Release
- Warriors In Line (Intro)
- Never Back Down
- Warrior In The Night
- The Astonishing End
- Crawling Among Shadows
- Beyond Darkness (Outro)
- Angel (Acoustic)
Sozos Michael--Lead Vocals
Giorgos Constantinou--Rhythm Guitars
Lambros Apousinas--Lead Guitars
I want you to take a good, long look at that album cover. Seriously...give it a hard stare. Pretty dang cool, right?! Definitely a metal cover with the silhouetted warrior, the fire, the swords, and the professional-looking logo. All top notch! Trust me, the back cover is, also, with a wolf silhouetted against a lightning strike in some ominous looking mountains. Again, very cool! And I want you to etch that into your memory, because once you actually listen to Warrior In The Night, I want you to have SOMETHING memorable to take away, because the music is definitely not!
Things start off okay...actually, fairly good...with a thunderous drum cadence that kicks into a big battle march-styled pattern, with some pretty good riffing going on underneath. There are some cool guitar licks going on as the cadence intensifies and the power grows, with the vocals not joining until the last few seconds when the song's title is power-bellowed, "Warriors, In Line!" Not bad, really, and I still have some hopes things may turn out okay.
"Never Back Down" sounds a bit like the galloping type of power metal that Iron Maiden used to put out back in the day, but with inferior vocals, far inferior production, and severely inferior drumming. The rhythm guitars are pretty solid, however, and the guitar solo is decent, so things aren't unlistenable at this point, even if they aren't necessarily enjoyable. It feels like I have heard this a hundred times from a hundred different bands that want to be the next Manowar or Hammerfall or the like, but as with all other imitators, Harmonize fails. And they fail largely because they don't do anything original or exciting, even if they are competent in the execution of this track. The production is not good, which doesn't help, as we have a very muddy mix and the guitar tones are flat and completely off. And to throw a bit more on the fire, the lead vocals, while definitely not the worst I have heard, are pretty heavily accented and overdramatic, which just slaps another layer of cheesy schmaltz onto an already struggling song. And the really sad thing? This is the best song on the album!
The wheels fall completely off by the time the title track rolls around...at track three, no less. Honestly, the tone and tempo of "Warrior In The Night" makes me think of some of the over-the-top drama that Spinal Tap produced on-stage in that classic film! This is just...it's bad, folks. Is Harmonize trying to create a new power-doom genre here? Because if they are, I think they succeed to a degree, but the results are not good. The lyrics are what I sometimes refer to as "pure Swiss", meaning all cheese and full of holes! Pick a Dungeons and Dragons campaign, take every cliched lyric you have ever heard about that campaign, and set it to off-tune, poorly mixed power metal (played at a doom metal pace for half the six minute track), throw in some off-the-cuff death metal-esque vocals and you have a decent idea of what we are dealing with here. The lead guitars aren't terrible...not overly original, but not terrible...and the bass line is competent, but the song is about three minutes too long and that overwrought intro just kills anything good that may have come of this track.
From this point on, things get even worse. "Angel" may be the most painful song on the album, and we have to listen to it TWICE (once in acoustic form)! Why?! Again, brutally bad lyrics and some of the most cringe-inducing down-tempo drumming I have ever heard plague another poorly mixed track that goes absolutely nowhere. The accent on the vocals is annoying, the random shouting of "Angel!" in the background is annoying, the hyper-repetitive guitar riff is annoying...and did I mention the drumming? There is a nice uptick in the tempo at roughly the three minute mark which turns the song from a plodding nightmare into a galloping bad dream, so that's a step up, I suppose. But...wow...putting this on the record twice is punishment for a crime I didn't commit!
Sadly, "The Astonishing End" isn't the end of the record (the forced re-listen to acoustic "Angel" brings things to a close), but it is nearing the end of my patience. The rhythm guitars aren't bad and the drumming is...okay, I suppose...but nothing works here, and they don't work for nearly seven LOOOOONG minutes! But even more sad is the fact that this isn't the longest torture session on the record! No, that (dis)honor goes to "Crawling Among Shadows", which spends the first two minutes dragging the listener through a sludgy pit of doom, only to add insult to injury by dumping some subpar death growl vocals into the mix. The lead guitars are the only, and I mean ONLY, saving grace on this track, and even those seem to lose their tempo a bit when the incredibly long instrumental break launches after the second (or was it third) run through the chorus. Actually, this instrumental break isn't that bad and may be the true highlight of the album! Heck, even the drum patterns come off as a bit interesting here. But then those dang vocals come back...and then have the balls to tease you with a false ending at the seven minute mark! THERE'S STILL TWO MORE MINUTES OF PAIN HERE! Wow...just...wow....
I may have misstated things earlier when I said "Angel" was the worst track here, because the real worst track here is the SIX AND A HALF MINUTE LONG SPOKEN WORD outro! And I don't care if this is performed by the London actress Nicolina Papas, who also co-wrote this metallic mish-mash (should I know who she is?), this is just bad, bad musical drama at it's D&D worst. I'm going to be honest with you and admit that I kept skipping forward in this track to see if there was any reason to continue listening...and there wasn't. Gack! I will honestly NEVER listen to this track again, but then again, I will likely never listen to this album again, either. In fact, I have already deleted the files from my computer. Now, what do I do with the CD....???
I'm not even going to rehash "Angel"; I'm just not going to do it. Just know its the same song but acoustic.
In all honesty and seriousness, this is not a good record. Oh, the effort is there, no doubt, there are parts of songs that are pretty good, and there are some moments where things almost come together in a good way, but they are few and far between...and I did say almost come together, because it never really happens. And I hate saying these things because I want every independent band to succeed. Perhaps Harmonize will get there, they just miss the mark on this effort, and they do so in virtually every way.
My suggestion to the band would be to spend less on the artwork/insert budget (which is very well done) and focus more on the production and mixing of the album. Let's be honest; we have all heard KILLER records from a simple slipcase, and while not ideal for those of us who are collectors, it is a far sight better than an amazing package with nothing to back it up. Such is the case with Harmonize, sadly.
Rating: Give this a 2 and TURN IT OFF. However, you should pin the cover art up somewhere because...well, it is pretty metal!