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Biss - X-Tension (CD)

by Grigoris Chronis at 11 November 2006, 12:41 PM

The band's previous (third) album Face Off (2005) was a real Hard-to-Heavy killer release; I can clearly recall so. Biss are - and likely will eternally be - rather unknown to the masses, even if four albums have they already released, while featured in the quartet is Krokus' lead vocalist Marc Storace. In oppose, a very good motive did I get to see what the band's sophomore album deals with.
Run For Your Life bears a rather weird songwriting. A riding tempo - alike to the faves of bands like Riot - with mystic vocals from Storace did not make me feel very sure for what I was going to hear next. V Card rather carries on the mood, with a 'stiff' straightforward chord in a 'rolling' tempo, leading to a similar 'mystic' bridge/chorus. 21st century Saxon would like this tune. So far, so 'hard'… Always - on the other hand - seems rather 'computerized' but wins the listener due to its instant riffing; let aside the a la 'current' Udo Dirkschneider vocal approach of Marc. With a more 'fat' production (this eventually goes for the whole album) this cut would be a total blast.
Shout It Out kicks ass! Riding the wind, in the Dio vein (songwriting-wise), Marc's narrative singing is breathtaking, while the Rainbow-ish guitars of Heyne mark the era lovers of the cut. Barracuda - maybe the most famous AOR/Rock monsters Heart hit - is a pain in the ass to be 'covered'. Much of a curiosity led to 'thumbs up' for the respected take, both musically and vocally. Eagle could be a good tune if there was something as exciting as Storace's voice in the tune. Nothing special, in my opinion.
The German declaration for war strikes double (or triple) in the beginning of Born To Ride (the most 'heavy' tune of the album), the couple is boring, the bridge is Saxon-isque again and the chorus is in the clear-cut vein of Primal Fear. If it wasn't for the clever solo, the tune would be outta scope. Blood On Sand - co-written by Mat Sinner (Sinner/Primal Fear) - carries a 100% different 'vibe' and is the fine link between Sinner and Krokus (Sinner's big - among others - influence?). Rather melodic but yet Heavy as hell, it does make the difference.
Train Of Thoughts put me into consideration. 'Lifeless' drumming, but some kickin' guitar chords lead to a good-and-bad 'voyaging' refrain and I feel like this 'just good' song could be easily split into two greater cuts. Catch 22 sees a good main guitar idea, with Storace providing 'inner' singing but no further loylaty can I give to the chorus, even if some resemblance to the Dio/Saxon (again) likes are obvious.
The production credit of X-tension goes to the persona of Michael Voss (Mad Max, Casanova, Demon Driver, Silver), and surely is the highest 'con' of the album (the same as Voss, for whom the highest of respect I had in the 1982-1992 days is now dust in the wind). Hmmm… Face Off was most 'alive' in general, even if less heavy. Not that this is a bad set of tunes but the whole idea is a little bit 'pale'. Blame it to the sound (the drums sound is almost 'dead') or what?

2 Star Rating

Run for your life
V Card
Shout it out
Born to ride
Blood on sand
Train of thoughts
Catch 22
Marc Storace - Lead Vocals
Ralf Heyne - All Guitars
Lars Wilke - Bass
Carsten Witte - Drums
Record Label: AOR Heaven


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