Rizon – Masquerade
It’s probably fair to say Switzerland doesn’t have an established power metal scene like some of their neighboring countries do, and so Zurich-based Rizon draws inspiration from several places at one. Most of the songs on Masquerade are in the mid-tempo range with a strong focus on vocal and guitar melodies with keyboards for added flavor. Not quite melodic heavy metal, not quite power metal, it finds its own snug little spot in between the two.
By not making any overt genre statement, Rizon comes off as pretty harmless. It’s light-hearted entertainment of solid quality, if not always delivering the most instantly memorable material. They certainly didn’t do themselves any favors by opening with the rather stiff “High Flyer”, which takes a slow and labored start before getting to a strong refrain. Much more pleasant are “Sigh Of Eternity” and “Masquerade”, where fulltime female singer Seraina complements Matthias Götz’ sometimes unstable voice. Going for dual vocalists was a good call and the songs where both of them share equal time in the spotlight are the standouts. Be it mesmerizing duets like “Out Of Nowhere” and “Lost In Silence” or catchy collaborations such as “Same Same” and “Time After Time”, there is insurmountable proof that these two belong together.
With a running time over one hour spanning thirteen tracks, Rizon may have overstepped themselves though. Some tunes feel unwanted and out of place. Ballads like “Remotion” and “Cold Winter’s Night” add little to the proceedings, whereas the Spanish-tinged poppy “Los Dios” and the metal-worship of “Bells” come off as inappropriately silly. However, the musicianship is solid and I particularly like the occasional foreground role of the bass. Götz sounds like a consistently dramatic Henning Basse and there is a definite appreciating curve for his work, but in the end he gets the job done. Seraina, for her part, possesses a powerful singing brand more intended to blend in with the music than to call attention to herself. When it comes down to it, Masquerade is quite a fun release, if only it had been cut down to a tighter and punchier end product.
Arno Callens’ Rating: 3.5 out of 5