ReinXeed – Welcome To The Theater
Tommy Johansson and company sure don’t disappoint. Another year, another ReinXeed album, and this time they’re even less subtle about their thematic material (which doesn’t make it any less enjoyable). Yes, ladies and gentlemen; boys and girls; metalheads of all ages; Welcome To The Theater is a bombastic tribute to cinema, featuring some of everyone’s favorites (Even mine, and I hardly watch movies!).
The curtain is raised with “Welcome”, an introduction that somehow manages to snare the essence of dozens of Hollywood films and squeeze them into an orchestral piece just over a minute in length. This spirit of energy, optimism, and grandeur is also exactly what you should be expecting from the rest of the album. ReinXeed was at the top of its collective game with the very good 1912, but the envelope has been pushed further yet in terms of sound and ambition. With their absurd covers of pop favorites and even Youtube videos, this band is capable of turning nearly every subject under the sun into a gleeful and galloping romp. Now, they turn that same formula on Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Spiderman, and a plethora of other favorites- with fantastic results!
“Ok great, but does this album actually sound distinctive?” Well, ReinXeed’s sound is somewhat singular, especially with Tommy’s voice leading the charge, but the short answer is: yes, in fact, it does. The formula hasn’t really changed all that much, but Welcome To The Theater presents the band at their most bombastic, polished, and, well…theatrical yet. In addition to this, and perhaps surprisingly, this is also easily their heaviest work to date. Despite all the orchestration, there’s no lack of brilliant leads, ripping rhythm lines, or shredding solos. The production is perhaps the best that it’s ever been, accentuating the heavier guitar tone while simultaneously lessening the trademark “cold” and “distant” sounds that I’ve described the band as having in the past, though these elements are still present in places.
Bolstering Reinxeed’s formidable compositions is guest vocalist Ronny Hemlin of Steel Attack (and more recently Tad Morose). Appearing on the verses of “Freedom”, Hemlin lends his potent, gruff tone to Johansson’s crystal clear tenor to mold an already strong song into a fantastic vocal experience. Tommy himself has never sounded better, and a couple of his lines in “Freedom” in particular are on par with some of the best screams that I’ve heard in modern power metal.
The cinematic theme really helps each and every song on this album to stand out rather uniquely, unlike Majestic and 1912, where the songs occasionally ran together a bit. Because everyone is bound to find their own favorites here, I’ll just throw mine out: the Jurassic Park homage of “Life Will Find A Way”, the superb and anthemic title track, and especially the excellent “Temple Of The Crystal Skulls”. The latter, in addition to being a very fun tribute to all four Indiana Jones films, is one of the most hyper-melodic and upbeat songs I’ve heard yet this year.
Aside from Tommy’s voice occasionally growing slightly redundant (very difficult for this band to escape, and I can understand some people’s issue with it), my only complaint with this album is a nitpick: the placement of the title track. First off, the lyrics (“Welcome to the theater, we’ll show you to your seat!”) seems perfect for an introduction to the album, as does the vivid motif of film references that is drawn on throughout the entire song. Additionally, the anthemic feels and driving introduction just feel much more ideal and explosive after the orchestral introduction than “Life Will Find A Way” comes out sounding. I actually found myself double checking the tracklist a couple of times because I was so certain that this had to be the opener. I’d take more issue with it, except that this song hardly does a poor job of wrapping up the album, and I suppose that I can appreciate the value of having this tapestry of film after all of the other tracks as well.
Ultimately, Welcome To The Theater is a rousing success, a box-office smash, and whatever else is a good reference for a successful movie. There’s variety and drama aplenty, great singing, and a finely woven mass of passionate music that conveys quite clearly the band’s love for films that they doubtlessly grew up watching. I recommend this very highly to cinephiles, fans of all power metal, and maybe even the stoic and handsome Harrison Ford himself. I’ll see you all in the front row!
Dan’s Rating: 4.25 out of 5