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FullForce - "One" (CD)

FullForce - "One" CD cover image

"One" track listing:

1. Mythomaniac
2. None Of Your Concern
3. Heart And Soul
4. Oblivion
5. Open Your Eyes
6. Rain
7. Suffering In Silence
8. Walls Of Secrets
9. Father Spirit
10. Bleed
11. Into The Cradle

Reviewed by on July 1, 2011

"The songwriting isn't energetic enough to compensate for its unoriginality, and the atmospherics offer few surprises."

As fun as European power metal can be when played with a dash of inspiration, the oft-oppressive uniformity of sound within the scene can sometimes be a real sedative. Additionally, the endless stream of identical side projects and “supergroups,” whose interchangeable members constantly merge, dissolve, regroup, and rebrand, suggests a full-blown incest problem within the subgenre.

FullForce, the latest such product from Sweden, nearly escapes that tired banality through their all-around earnestness and the strength of a few standout cuts on their SPV debut “One.” Like so many other bargain-bin genre mates, they are something of a supergroup, comprised of current and former members of Hammerfall, Narnia, and Yngwie J. Malmsteen. It’s not an ego project; the personalities and chops of the individuals involved take a backseat to songwriting and atmosphere. Unfortunately, the songwriting isn’t energetic enough to compensate for its unoriginality, and the atmospherics offer few surprises.

Opener “Mythomaniac” leaps through the gate and gallops around the track, struggling to keep up with his big brother Firewind. The next track, “None Of Your Concern,” finally catches up with the formidable sibling and delivers a genuinely catchy tune with great riffs and a memorable chorus. From there on out, the band unloads a pleasant but mostly predictable collection of mid tempo rockers. Firewind seems a serviceable constant comparison, but in all honesty, the musical influences in this subgenre have become so homogenized that any major player in the scene will do. While the nasty riffage and kick drums on speed metal cut “Open Your Eyes” are impressive, and “Into The Cradle” is an infectious ‘80s style would-be radio hit, the only spark of true brilliance comes in the form of “Oblivion,” a hypnotic bass-heavy march with a ripping solo and labyrinthine Middle Eastern overtones – not unlike Nocturnal Rites’ similar exploration in their 2004 epic “Egyptica,” but creative and individual enough to set it apart.

Alas, “Oblivion” has neither the wingspan nor the horsepower to carry the rest of the album aloft, dead weight included. Diehard devotees of the largely Continental (in this case, Scandinavian) subgenre of power metal may find much to adore here, and even casual listeners ought to give “One” a spin to check out the highlights, but if you’re looking for that band destined to really spice things up within the genre, this is not your lucky day.

Highs: "Oblivion," "None Of Your Concern," and "Into The Cradle" are all terrific songs, and the seasoned musicianship is admirable.

Lows: Much of "One" feels like a poor man's versions of better songs, on better albums, by better bands.

Bottom line: Diehard power metal devotees may love it, but if you're looking for that band destined to spice up the genre, this is not your lucky day.

Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls
2.5 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)