Evil Masquerade – Pentagram
Evil Masquerade has been a persistent presence in the power metal underground since the band’s excellent debut Welcome To The Show. Keeping their taste for the theatrical, they have evolved from a neoclassic mad carnival to a devilish rock ‘n’ roll ride. Their fifth album, Pentagram, marks the next milestone in this development, presenting an ever darker twist on solo-Dio hard rock and heavy metal.
It speaks for the dynamic duo of guitar wizard Henrik Flyman and vocal god Apolla Papathanasio that simplifying their sound brings out their strengths and both are in fine form here. With the new Firewind record Few Against Many hot off the press as well, these are good times for the Greek, even though his homeland is going through some hell. The man even gets to let out a high-pitched scream or two, something I cannot remember him doing that much in his extensive career.
Pentagram tells you all you need to know with its opening track, a rollicking trip through dampest dungeons and eeriest rituals flowing effortlessly into the rancorous and melancholy “A Silhouette”, an early album highlight. Keeping things delightfully macabre are “Perfect Disgrace” and “The Spirits Of The Dead”, until “Moonlight Fantasy” adds a catchier and warmer note to the coldness.
Tempo-wise, most of the tracks plod steadily on and “Unholy Water” is perhaps the best example of this tendency. Its refrain strings you along with ease and washes into the whispered title. Indeed, the album possesses an uncanny sense of streaming effortlessly from one song to another. “Pray For Mercy On Our Souls” is another rapturous rampage, while “Soul Taker” snarls with scarily subdued intensity. With “On A Bed Of Thorns”, the band harkens back to “Desire And Pain” from predecessor Fade To Black, slow, ominous and almost resembling doom. “Strangers Might Fool Ya’” is an intriguing interlude before the last vicious verse “When The Fire Dies” sets in and the credits roll with instrumental outro “The Golden Ratio”.
Evil Masquerade play in a league very much of their own and will probably keep prowling the subterranean cellars forever. All the more the loss of those dwelling aboveground, not willing to venture into the vaults of evil and dance among the demons. I’m having a blast there either way.
Arno Callens’ Rating: 4.0 out of 5