Still Alive – Kyo
Reviewed by Christopher Foley
Well, well, well. This is pretty damn cool. Still Alive fly the flag proudly for Brazilian power metal, in comparison to the latest releases from fellow countrymen SupreMa, Pastore, or Hevilan, Kyo comes off undoubtedly strong. If there’s any band Still Alive reminds me of, I’d have to say it was Almah, circa Fragile Equality, with a generous helping of Italian prog power in the vein of Vision Divine. That description sounds a little godlier than this actually is, but trust me; Still Alive are onto a good sound here.
What leaves me feeling positive about Still Alive is how well they integrate the heavier elements into their sound. A lot of power metal acts fumble in trying to do this, oft utilizing modern, chugging dross, whereas Still Alive look rhythmically to thrash, particularly in terms of the bass guitar, and sauté with melodious, articulated riffs. “Unchained Souls” displays this proudly, with elements Symphony X would be chuffed to call their own. Look to the mid-section of this number to see how well the band incorporate its heavier chops – man, is that bass guitar pummeling!
If there’s an element to Still Alive’s sound which requires a little work (or in an ideal world, drop-kicked out of their sound), it’s the ballads – particularly “Embraced” – which fails to inspire in any sort of way. I really wish they’d stick to ripping, as there’s enough variation in their sound without having to include a soggy ballad. They seriously boast a lot in the way of melodic chops, with “Human” being the convincing case here. At least Walter Campos’ vocals are always enjoyable – even in the ballads. With his style coming off as a blend of Jake E Berg and Elias Homlid in places, whilst housing enough individual shade and texture to stand out on his own.
For the most part, Kyo is a killer release. In this wonderful digital age, you can deselect “Embraced” and the throwaway instrumental “The Journey Of The Lonely Seeker” from the album, and enjoy a full on, fist-banging experience. The band drips energy all over, with the aforementioned heavier moments rearing their sharp-toothed hydra-like heads at the most opportune moments. As for the rest, it’s good old fashioned power metal with all the frills; equally driven by guitar and keyboards, with glossy production and soaring vocals.
Each consecutive listen I’ve had with this album has left me feeling all the more positive, and I really think Still Alive could be a band to watch out for. There’s plenty to enjoy here, and even the less-than-good stuff isn’t really all that bad. There’s the odd rough edge, being the band’s debut and all, but boy oh boy, if they can further hone and focus their talent, then the end result could be some serious force. The seeds have been planted; for now though, give this one a look if the idea of heavier, Euro-style power metal sounds good to you!
3.5 // 5