Sinbreed – Shadows (AFM Records)Wednesday, 2nd April 2014
Here’s a good way to beef up your lineup: Add two members of Blind Guardian. Granted, they’re the two role players (rhythm guitarist Marcus Siepen and drummer Frederick Ehmke), but hey, they count, and are good for a little boost in the promotional department. Sinbreed would probably still be kicking around the C-leagues if it weren’t for the addition of this pair, but that shouldn’t detract from the solid, but not remarkable display of Teutonic power metal the band puts on with their second album, Shadows.
Because Sinbreed play a lively, double-bass dominant blend of power metal, one can make all sorts of instant comparisons the prime era of Blind Guardian (1990 – 1998). They’re not quite there in terms of life-altering tunes (because BG at that time, were in fact, life-altering), yet the propulsive riffing, where the tremolo pedal is pushed to the floor, produces instant results, like on lead single “Bleed,” and the galloping title track. However, the band rarely looks beyond this plane; they’re a bit too reliant on the high-wire, festival fist-pumping sound, although the chorus choices on “Far Too Long” as well as “Standing Tall” have some panache.
Vocalist Herbie Langhans positions himself as a heartier Tobias Sammet, just without the personable personality or penchant for quick-witted vocal lines. Nevertheless, his vocal heft comes in handy when the band is pushing the tempos, which is like, ALL the time on Shadows, save for the obligatory slow-down number, “Broken Wings,” where brief touches of acoustic guitars and tenderness prove that Sinbreed do have ideas outside of the never-ending swaths of speed, double-kicks, and proto Blind Guardian riff-action, which was perfected over 20 years. Guess that’s what they brought Siepen and Ehmke onboard for.