Symphorce – Unrestricted (AFM Records)

Wednesday, 20th March 2013
Rating: 6.5/10

Clearly at the point in their career where they have topped-off, Germany’s Symphorce appear poised to slide down the power metal ladder with the awfully safe Unrestricted. Granted, “safe” and “power metal” and two forever-aligned terms, but Symphorce always had an extra little “pop” to them, and it was damn-near powerful on 2005’s Godspeed and its 2007 follow-up, Become Death. Now, they’re without the bulk and muscle from before, and Unrestricted suffers because of it.

At first listen, singer Andy B. Franck (also of Brainstorm fame) comes across as too loud in the mix, thus drowning out the guitars. And since Franck is too far out in front on otherwise hard-rocking jams like “Until It’s Over” and “Whatever Hurts,” the once forceful-impact of the band’s sound is decreased mightily. Past that, there’s sure to be some disapproving glances toward the commercialized and bland stance of “The Waking Hour” and “Worlds Seem To Collide,” which in true wannabe socio-political fashion, touches upon the September 11 tragedy. A bit late for that, eh?

The Germans don’t play the atypical double-bass happy power metal game, so a lot of these songs rest in the 4/4 space. Franck does add some cool vocal twists to “The Last Decision,” a song that may be one of the few here with any sort of balls. “Visions” would probably be the other song worth noting, driven by a marauding main riff and a crystalline chorus.

As mentioned above that little “pop” or whatever you want to call it that permeated the last few Symphorce albums just isn’t there on Unrestricted. If anything, this is the definition of boneheaded power metal; music without any real reach or pull. It’s music that meanders and meanders along…not the Symphorce that came out swinging just a few years ago.

www.myspace.com/symphorce

(This content originally appeared on Blistering.com)