Saturday, February 5, 2011

Hibria - Blind Ride (2011)

Brazilian power metal might take a backseat to the other, more prevalent genres in the region (death and thrash, specifically), but it's certainly a fairly saturated scene. Granted, none other than Angra have really made strides beyond those borders, but 2004 brought an explosion of potential with the Hibria debut Defying the Rules, a storm of superb riffing and Iuri Sanson's passionate cries. I did not get it up quite so much for the sophomore The Skull Collectors (2008), but it was a fairly balanced attack and certainly not a loss in momentum. Three years later, the band have returned for their third opus, Blind Ride, and it's by far the most modernized of the three, with a dense production and a lot of busy, charging riffs that wouldn't be out of place on a melodic death metal album of the 21st century.

Of course, Sanson's vocals ensure that comparison ends only in the flavor of the guitars, because he's got the same, emotionally charged, accented style as he's used in the past, only with less of the higher pitched screaming. I won't say that he's quite the match of the riffs on this album, because they blaze through with such a focused intensity, leads careening of the verses and bridge that they almost seem to leave him in their dust, but his presence lends a level of wild aggression that might otherwise not be felt. "Shoot Me Down", "Welcome to the Horror Show" and "The Shelter's On Fire" (which sounds a lot like what the band were writing on their debut) are so bristling with guitars that they barely know what to do with themselves, so you're in for a bumpy ride moored in thick, competent bass and Eduardo Baldo's armored, muscular drumming. The overall tone here reminds me of Firewind, or perhaps the past few Nocturnal Rites efforts, only the Brazilians throw a lot more at you.

But does it stick? More often than not, it doesn't. The instrument performances are bewildering to say the least, and the deeper one gets, the chorus parts seem to grow catchier, like the belligerent "Sight of Blindness", the bouncing "Tough is the Way" or the flighty and frivolous "Rotten Souls", but as entertaining as the band is when swallowing you in its talents, these are just not the sorts of songs one will raise his/her fist to in 5-10 years. We'll all still be canting the lyrics to "Steel Lord on Wheels", "Living Under Ice" and other debut highlights. Blind Ride is a minor fascination that has more heft through its speed, pro tone and remarkable musicianship than the durability necessary for a timeless power metal album. Good, not great. Enjoyed for now, absent on the horizon.

Verdict: Win [7/10]

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