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Fullforce - Next Level

Next Level
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 27 December 2012, 3:03 PM

A mojo can last as long as an artist indulges it. There have been times where if one is not too careful, the mojo may be lost only to reappear with its shinny head again in an unknown period of time. Less than a year since their last release, “One”, and here is FULLFORCE out there again with a new album named “Next Level”, once again via SPV / Steamhammer Records. There is a kind of an interesting buzz to that chosen title don’t you think? It can be said that FULLFORCE, led by the ex-HAMMERFALL amazing lead axe grinder, Stefan Elmgren, didn’t lose its mojo to write 80s influenced material under the wing of Hard N’ Heavy while also swaying left and right to a few darker edges of this compelling fusion of subgenres. With less than a year, FULLFORCE switched second guitarists, Carl-Johan Grimmark departed from the group as Stefan Rosqvisttook his place. Other this position change, the rest of the lineup remained the same with the starring of Mike Andersson, with the undying vocals, and the skin orchestration of HAMMERFALL’s Anders Johansson making his continuing appearance in the FULLFORCE. lineup.

“Next Level”, in a way, lives and abides by its title, FULLFORCE had their way on setting a milestone within the dusky lands but ended up spreading the old classic kind of Metal that 80s fan would happily embrace. Keeping that profound dusty old HAMMERFALL sharp edged sound of the “Legacy Of Kings” album, dating back to 1998, which might had been lost for the band but not for FULLFORCE, “Next Level”, in a different rate than “One”, maintained a rather more Teutonic Metal line, mostly in the vein of ACCEPT, VICTORY, GRAVESTONE and BREAKER. As for other directions, there were what can be called obscure Keyboards infested swarms and a dimmer atmospheres that might resemble earlier KAMELOT tunes with a touch of late 90s Progressive Power, but nothing too fancy. I merely enjoyed the band’s straightforward direction, which was smoother, a little bit heavier and made with good taste, especially from these veterans musicians. League leaders as “Awesomeness”, “Hate…Love…Drop It!”, which even took a rougher fashion towards Speed and minor Thrash inclinations, “Course OfLife”, “Broken Dreams” (A spicy short opener with a lot of shingle but too bad without an ample solo) and “Break It, Crack It, Destroy It”, cracked me up really good making this listening session an enticing 80s Metal sensation. There were a few repetitive ideas, not too original stuff, but the performance was energetic and intensifying, especially due to Anderson’s strong vocals, that which improved from the debut, and Elmgren’s ACCEPTish lead guitar mania. There were the offshoots of “Mysterious Ways”, “Visions” and “Karma”, but that approach didn’t impress me much. Sure it made FULLFORCE a bit more diverse but nothing that elaborate. Last and just in the nick of time as the least, “Strongest Thing of All” struck me as one of the best power ballads I have heard in a while with soulful singing, intense, though simplistic riff, and a strapping rhythm section, made this one a classic no doubt.

In general, “Next Level” slightly outran its previous contender. Anderson, Elmgren and crew made this one an gratifying old school experience while not letting go of the tiny modern superiority that augmented a layer of crust to their music. “Next Level” is a sort of the next stage in FULLFORCE development. I would have settle for this stage but who knows maybe number three will outdone this one as well. Patience my friends, patience.

4 Star Rating

1. Broken Dreams
2. Break It, Crack It, Destroy It
3. Back ToLife
4. A Night to Remember
5. Karma
6. Whispers
7. Smile At TheWorld
8. Hate…Love…Drop It!
9. Visions
10. Course OfLife
11. Awesomeness
12. Mysterious Ways
13. Strongest Thing of All
Mike Andersson- Lead Vocals
Stefan Elmgren- Guitar
Stefan Rosqvist- Guitar
Tommy Larsson- Bass
Anders Johansson- Drums
Record Label: SPV / Steamhammer Records


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