Almanac - Rush of Death

Almanac Rush of Death cover
Rush of Death
Nuclear Blast Records
I must say that after witnessing the serious lineup changes, which left only Victor Smolski (G, K) and his LGO partner Jeannette Marchewka (female vocals) in place, and included losing both David Readman and Andy B Frank as vocalists and some really poor reviews, I begun listening to this album with some trepidation to say the least if not a bit of a negative bias. The new male vocalist duo that fronts the band consists of former GunBarel vocalist Patrick Sühl and current Gamma Ray guy, Frank Beck and while less illustrious than their predecessors, they do seem to get the job done.
From the cover to the bookend songs of the album, opener “Predator” and closer “Like A Machine”, there seems to be a “Racing” theme, something that goes way back to Smolski’s days with Rage, when he used to race around in a Daytona style car with a then relatively unknown Jen Majura (now in Evanescence) acting as a pit-girl.
The former is a melodic mid-tempo track that’s not too much unlike Smolski era Rage, but with more melodic vocals, while the latter fuses more acoustic and even flamenco guitars, with an otherwise normally “heavy” and dynamic composition...
The title track is another riff happy, but also refined melodic piece of metal that has a more modern bridge and ends up with a chorus that seems to bring the two worlds together along with a euphoric solo and it’s all about the rush that the idea of mortality can create – which calls one to action.
“Let the Show Begin” is a “cinematic” spoken work intro, about gladiators going into the arena and it begins a second chapter of “Suite Lingua Mortis”, which was originally found on “Speak of the Dead” by Rage.
“Soiled Existence” that follows is a dark and heavy symphonic, yet quite straightforward number, which opens this new suite, quite nicely.
“Bought and Sold” continues pretty much in the same way, but is probably a bit too busy and a little front heavy with guitars, then leaving the orchestral parts to pick up the slack. Not that there’s much as a solo quickly comes in and brings the whole thing around and full circle.
“The Human Essence” is pretty much an interlude, that allows a breather before “Satisfied” comes around, which is another part of the suite. It’s intro is very downtuned and modernist, with even something that sounds like a talk-box?! It is the longer song and probably one that feels a little all over the place. While I dig the orchestral parts, that weird modern guitar bit, really gets seriously on my nerves.
And yet the talk-boxy guitar and modern sounds return on “Blink of an Eye”, which, in all honesty, is other than its short bridge and “chorus” part and the neat solo, pretty forgettable otherwise.
At least “Can’t Hold Me Back”, which hardly has anything symphonic about it, makes up for it, by being a consistent and well executed conclusion.
The book-ended nature of the album with some thematically totally different content in the middle is a little hard to grasp, but it’s nice to see a conclusion to something that started some fourteen years earlier (talking about the Suite).
If you like European power metal, with symphonic tendencies, performed well and done justice you can’t really go wrong with any of the band’s three albums, including this one. The lineup changes and theme jumps might make the whole experience feel a little more surrealist than it should.