Zandelle – Perseverance (Pure Steel Records)Thursday, 2nd July 2015
Perseverance is an appropriate title for the fifth studio album from New York power metal band Zandelle. Active since the mid 1990’s and witnessing their live prowess at some of the East Coast/ Mid-West festivals catering to the movement pre-ProgPower, their uphill climb has been met with the usual label and lineup casualties one can expect over 19 years. Returning from the Twilight on Humanity period is guitarist TW Durfy, while the band add a new keyboardist to the fold in Josh Tuckman to open up a little more sonic diversity and newer neo-classical/progressive horizons.
Do not fear though – Zandelle remain staunch in their overall vision of melding European oriented power chords and happier, sing-a-long melodies with the occasional darker atmosphere that acts like Kamelot and Symphony X have honed in over their lifetime. Be it slower and epic-oriented to allow drummer Joe Cardillo a chance to execute a marching template only to build to a power double bass and semi-thrash transition for the 6:31 “Shadow Slaves” or something a touch more adventurous in terms of piano flourishes or classical guitar nods within the title cut, Zandelle know how to keep the energy level from flatlining.
Vocalist George Tsalikis has a naturally high register, safe in the Rob Halford meets Geoff Tate mold where he can take the words and twist them into theater of the mind for highlights such as “Unending Fortitude” and the 7 minute Maiden-esque closer “Revengeance (From the Ashes)” – while also cognizant of providing space for the audience participation that makes power metal eternally appealing. Plus, can you ever go wrong with a battle and castle scene cover?
While this reviewer would have preferred a touch heavier or beefier guitar tone, that’s a minor quibble in comparison to the depth of neo-classical epic power on display with Perseverance. Manowar, Helstar, Blind Guardian as well as the aforementioned names dropped in this review should give you a clue that Zandelle have not wavered from their ideals to give the US scene a steady power force to rally behind. Fantasy, medieval times, and steel present honor and strength to the warlords who cherish their heroes… raise your fists and hail!