Sinbreed – Shadows
Sinbreed – Shadows (2014)
Reviewed by Jeff Teets
If Germany is known for one thing in the metal world, it has to be power metal. Even in a time when traditionally-rooted, straight-forward power metal has seemingly fallen a little out of fashion, the country that produced all-time greats such as Blind Guardian, Helloween, Gamma Ray, and Edguy seems to still be capable of producing some of the genre’s most worthwhile bands and material. Sinbreed burst onto the scene with 2010’s When Worlds Collide, a very to-the-point power metal outing that featured catchy tunes, consistency, and an all-around refreshing vibe, true to all of the aforementioned German power metal greats. What’s more is that the album was a grower, and I found myself enjoying it more and more about a year after its release. As someone who had lost a little faith in the existence of this style of metal produced to this high of a standard, it was a breath of fresh air, especially as a band’s debut album.
Approximately four years later, Sinbreed offers its sophomore effort, entitled Shadows. In the years since the debut, the group has added a second Blind Guardian member to its ranks, now boasting guitarist Marcus Siepen in addition to founding member (of Sinbreed that is, not Blind Guardian) and drummer Fredrik Ehmke. Within the disc’s 50-minute duration, the group offers the expected twists and turns down the tried-and-true streets of power metal. Just about every song boasts a strong, memorable chorus that the listener is sure to remember fondly after just a few listens. As with most music of this style, the disc’s best moments tend to surface when the songs are rather fast and/or ripe with powerful melodies and hooks. Title track “Shadows”, “Reborn”, and “Far Too Long” offer a bit of both, and stick out as favorites of mine the after somewhat nondescript and perhaps unconventional opener “Bleed”, which is also the longest track on the record.
The music is furious and riff-driven throughout, complimented by the somewhat gruff but still-melodic vocalist in front man Herbie Langhans, also possibly familiar to fans German-based progressive metal outfit Beyond The Bridge. Herbie’s vocals generally reflect all the traits of other great German power metal vocalists – mainly treading that thin line between a melodic delivery and a more aggressive edge. Ehmke’s drumming comes across as similar to the two Blind Guardian records he’s contributed to – fiercely competent but yet somewhat lacking in identity or feel, perhaps made worse by over-quantization or too rigid of a triggered drum sound. Nevertheless, there are certainly no shortcomings in any of the members’ performances.
Despite offering up ten great tracks sure to entice any fan of the style, if Shadows has one major short-coming, its lack of variety. While some fans of the genre are likely to regale the album for its take-no-prisoners approach of furious up-tempo power metal, I think this album could’ve been stronger if a little more variation had been presented. Perhaps a song or two with longer structures or creative, unexpected turns, maybe a ballad of sorts, or even an interlude track to offer some dynamics and break up the potential monotony of ten consecutive barn-burning numbers.
All in all, fans of the group’s debut will certainly not be disappointed in Shadows, as it manages to retain everything that made its predecessor such a stand-out debut album. This group may only do one thing, but it certainly does so incredibly well, and better than just about anyone else is doing it at the moment save for fellow countrymen Orden Ogan. As a sophomore effort to begin building towards a quality discography, Shadows is certain to serve the band well. However, when and if there is to be a third album, I can’t help but yearn for the band to explore slightly more territory than is contained within this record. Nevertheless, just about any fan of the German power metal genre would do well to check out this album, even if they aren’t coming in as a Sinbreed fan.
4.0 // 5