I've been an obsessed hard rock/heavy metal fan and collector since the early 1980s. If it's got a good guitar riff and attitude, I'm in.
Masquerage - "Hangman's Revelations"
Release: Stormspell Records, Fall 2018
Country: Finland / Genre: Melodic power metal
12 tracks, run time: 55:39
Masquerage was a new name to me but this Finnish melodic heavy metal quartet has been kicking around the underground scene since the early 2000s. Hangman's Revelations, their fifth full length album, is scheduled to be released through the true-metal specialists at Stormspell Records in November 2018. As I skimmed through the promotional materials I was sent for Hangman's Revelations, it turned out that I was already somewhat familiar with two of the Masquerage band members: guitarist/vocalist Kimmo Perämäki and bassist Ossi Raiski, who are also members of Spellwitch. I reviewed Spellwitch's debut album,The Witching Hour, on this very site earlier this year, and while both bands are following a similar melodic-metallic path, the Spellwitch material had a slightly "darker" edge to it ala Dio or Blind Guardian, while Masquerage are more polished and "happier" sounding, in the vein of Seven Keys-era Helloween, Masterplan, early Gamma Ray, Sonata Arctica, and especially fellow Finns Stratovarius.
In a nutshell, if you like your power metal slickly produced, dramatic, and played with just a hint of progressive pomposity, but without the standard, cheesy "Metal is forever, heavy metal will never die" rock-warrior cliche's that are so prevalent in the genre, then Hangman's Revelations should be right up your alley.
"Hangman's Revelations" Music Video:
The classy "Wrapped In Gold" kicks Hangman's Revelations off in fine style, immediately establishing this band's distinctly European template: bright, zippy melodies, impressive guitar/keyboard interplay, and sing-along choruses. Perämäki's vocal style is rooted in the smooth tradition of singers like Michael Kiske (Helloween), Ralf Scheepers (Gamma Ray, Primal Fear) or Timo Kotipelto (Stratovarius). The title track is next and it's another bouncy hard-rock number with some nice, moody backing vocals. The crunchy riffing on "Among The Rats" shows the heavier side of this band and Perämäki even gets to show off a bit of grit and snarl in his voice.
"No Wolves Here" is a hard rockin' anthem with a fair share of attitude that leads into the catchy "Masterman," one of the album's longer tracks at nearly six minutes. The moody "Don't Overstay Your Welcome" chugs along at a nice melodic pace that gives Perämäki a showcase for the smoother side of his voice. We then crash back into the chugging "Sunken Day," an ode to alcohol which contains my favorite lyric on the record: "I got no time for love, I'm more into ale anyway, f**k you all!" (They should put that on the back of their concert tee-shirts!)
"Weekend Warrior" (not a cover of the Iron Maiden song) kicks off with a riff that's pure '80s hair metal before the keys kick in and the song's soaring chorus heads for the skies. Hangman's Revelations closes with the five-minute "Savages," which once again begins with some nice, crunchy, down-n-dirty guitar riffage before sprawling out into an impressive prog-metal throwdown.
In the end, Hangman's Masquerade may not be the most original album I've heard this year but it is a collection of well-written and well-produced songs played by seasoned musicians at the very peak of their skills.
Summing It Up
Hangman's Revelations is a solid, impressive piece of work and I expect that it will spend several more weeks in my listening pile. This is now the second project from Perämäki and Raiski that I've heard, and though I think I may prefer Spellwitch by just a smidge, it's a close call, because Masquerage are certainly no slouches either.
I would definitely recommend that fans of '80s style melodic rock, Euro-power metal and well played hard rock and heavy metal in general give these guys a listen. You can check out the band's official Facebook page for more information.
"Hangman's Revelations" Album Teaser:
Work-Holic-Fool - indie, 2007
Moonlight Time - indie, 2008
Backstabber - 57 Records, 2012
Breaking The Masks - Stormspell Records, 2016
Hangman's Revelations - Stormspell Records, 2018
© 2018 Keith Abt