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Symphorce - "Unrestricted" (CD)

Symphorce - "Unrestricted" CD cover image

"Unrestricted" track listing:

1. The Eternal (4:08)
2. Until It's Over (3:46)
3. Sorrow In Our Hearts (3:20)
4. Whatever Hurts (4:42)
5. The Waking Hour (3:00)
6. Visions (4:36)
7. The Last Decision (3:24)
8. The Mindless (5:56)
9. Worlds Seem To Collide (3:44)
10. Do You Ever Wonder (4:22)

Reviewed by on October 22, 2010

"Sure, a lot of bands have been influenced by Maiden, and occasionally you come across one that imitates them well, but 'Unrestricted' actually made me want to pull out the old Maiden vinyls."

I have to admit that I never really considered myself a fan of the German band Symphorce. They seemed like just another power metal act, and unlike most of the free world, I've never been a fan of Andy Franck's Bruce Dickinson impersonations. But Symphorce's new release, "Unrestricted," shows the band and me turning a new leaf.

After listening to "Unrestricted," I don't think you can really call Symphorce a power act anymore – the opening track "Eternal" runs the gamut from symphonic to sleaze to industrial, all in the first 30 seconds, but there's no power metal sound to be heard. What "Eternal" does sound like is a breathtaking opener that shows how diverse the band has become, and that is definitely a good thing.

I've also come to the conclusion that Franck's vocals are pretty good, when they go with the compositions. Just like no one in their right mind would ever call Dickinson's voice pretty, Franck's voice always seemed foreign to me in previous Symphorce music. This time though, it works amazingly well, probably because as a whole "Unrestricted" sounds a lot like Iron Maiden. Sure, a lot of bands have been influenced by Maiden, and occasionally you come across one that imitates them well, but "Unrestricted" actually made me want to pull out the old Maiden vinyls, particularly when I heard tracks like "The Last Decision."

This new release isn't perfect though, and probably its biggest downfall is the synths that open "Whatever Hurts" and "The Waking Hour." Both tracks sans synth would be pretty good, and "Whatever Hurts" does satisfy the power requirements for those wanting a more traditional Symphorce sound.

My personal favorites though are the rallying classic rock sounding "Visions" and the closer "Do You Ever Wonder." Heavier guitars, lower range vocals, and galloping tempos make these perfect choices for fans of metal with a classic feel.

Another good choice that shows how the band is developing and growing as a unit is "Until It's Over." This one is upbeat and more progressive, with an awesome breakdown. Still, it's got some mainstream appeal and makes you want to sing along.

The bottom line is if you're an established Symphorce fan expecting more of the same, "Unrestricted" probably won’t thrill you. But if you're looking for a good listen that effectively combines progressive and classic metal, this album is an excellent choice.

Highs: A diverse but effective blend of progressive and more classic metal elements.

Lows: A couple hokey synth intros, but they're quickly masked by chugging guitars.

Bottom line: A surprising new sound from a band known for its power metal sound, this one is a good choice for fans of classic metal.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)