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Having recently rediscovered French power/progressive unit Dream Child, it felt natural to give semi-related Eternal Flight a shot, which were formed by vocalist Gérard Fois and new members once Dream Child had split-up. Now Dream Child’s Reaching the Golden Gates saw the band taking a step in the progressive direction; something I enjoyed hearing, but wasn’t too fond of and it only made me wonder what Eternal Flight would have in store.
Although its generic album title and hilarious cover artwork would promise a power metal album without any substance, Positive Rage sounds even more modernized than Dream Child’s Reaching the Golden Gates, but this easily surpasses that album in terms of quality thanks to guitarist Christophe Offredi. I’m sure he carefully studied the arts of great power/progressive metal bands in his youth, as Positive Rage brings to mind earlier, riff-fronted bands from time to time. “The Masks will Fall” and “New World” immediately made me think of Eldritch’s first two albums in terms of sophisticated, yet explosive rhythm work. “Real” is more of a conventional chugging track and although this kind of riff-writing can be very hit-or-miss, you end up with something far more reminiscent of Conception circa ’95 than anything else. Funny enough, “Beyond” made me think of mid-to-late 90’s Gamma Ray and as you guess, it’s easily the most power metal-esque track on Positive Rage. With far more simplistic riffs played at a relatively high pacing, it’s basically a track Kai Hansen could only wish of coming up at one point.
Besides thrilling riffs, you end up occasional wailed vocals and simplistic, yet memorable choruses that are the main ingredients of these compositions. “The Masks Will Fall” sees Christophe Offredi unleashing a chain reaction of storming riffs and if you think of getting a chance to digest what’s happened once you’ve hit the play button… think again. Its chorus sounds fairly predictable, but that’s hardly an issue with someone like Gérard Fois on vocals. He doesn’t scream as much as he did during his Dream Child years here (where he seemed to channel a young Warrel Dane), but instead his style is rather comparable to that of James Rivera in terms of vocal tricks here. Keys are certainly evident, but they’re hardly a prominent feature of the record – instead it’s mostly about the forceful riffs flying around the semi-wailed vocals.
I’ll admit: the rest of the record doesn’t top the opener, but that would only be problematic if you’d end up with obvious fillers. The more melodic, yet riff cutter “Guardians” serves as a worthy second track and hearing Gérard Fois screaming for vengeance around the two minute mark makes the track even more entertaining. “Morphoenix” is one of the longer tracks on the record, but even here you end up with another tour-de-force of choppy riffs that resembles what Saber Tiger have been doing since the last decade or Outworld’s final promo album in terms of modernized, yet punchy guitar work that’s not made for the weak. At last, “The Moon King” is a wonderful moody (meaning: consists of tranquil acoustic guitar riffs and space-y keyboard motives), yet riff-centered track. The partial stop-go riffing could easily mean trouble if the wrong guitarist played this stuff, but with someone like Christophe Offredi on guitars, the result is a great album closer that maybe… just maybe, Pagan’s Mind could come up if only they’d stop taking sleeping pills (which to my ears they seem to do every time they enter a studio, how else could their music sound so dull?)
Although I’d love to praise Positive Rage much more, unfortunately it features couple of tracks not quite on the same level as most of the material, as the downside of this album comes down to… you’ve guessed it – its runtime! Positive Rage is over an hour long and would flow better if you’d trim its fat off. “All We Are” ends up like a mediocre vocally-driven track that chugs onward – it’s a bit of a by-the-numbers progressive metal tune and not exactly effective. The groove-driven “Back into the Light” sounds both overlong and too restrained for its own good, that perhaps would work better if it were half as long. Again, it’s not exactly an awful track, but it’s rather underwhelming when compared to blitzkrieg tracks such as “The Masks Will Fall” and “New World”. Worst of the worst, “Secret Place” is a lifeless ballad that appears halfway through the record and although that hypnotizing main motif promises something good, the track never takes off. Gérard Fois sounds at his most uninspired here and the result is something as moving as watching paint dry.
Fortunately, Positive Rage features more pros than cons and although it’s one of the most overlooked power/progressive albums out there, fans of the heavier and riff-centered style should certainly have a good time here. Now listen to it and enjoy what you’ve been missing!
Release date: 2004
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