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Gonoreas - Minotaur

by Chris Hawkins at 16 April 2018, 10:20 PM

A personal gripe must be aired before the review can commence.  Why anyone would want to name their band after a burning affliction obtained due to a long drunken weekend in Tijuana celebrating a friend's bachelor party with a variety of loose, willing women has this reviewer absolutely stumped.  The band formed in 1994 and was originally called THE GONORRHEAS, but later changed the name to the intentionally less obvious GONOREAS…still, though…  I digress.  Perhaps social norms and mores really are vastly different in Switzerland where the band hail from.  Can you imagine hearing on the radio, "And next up is the killer new song from GONOREAS"?  OK, the rant is finished, and the review shall now commence.

"Minotuar" is the sixth release from the band, and to these virgin ears, they sound nothing like I imagined.  The band's sound is accurately surmised as Aggressive Power Metal.  After the first track, "Bloodstones" (an ode to the side effect of the referenced affliction down under?) introduces the album in symphonic pomp and circumstance, the Metal begins to truly flow.  "Seeds of a New Future," track two, starts with a syncopated riff which graduates to a brawler, but when the singer enters at the 0:53 mark, a huge smile overcame me as I heard hints of a pissed-off Bruce Dickinson.  To top it all off, the bass is truly killing it with runs up and down the fretboard played with a wrathful execution.  Immediately following is "Puzzle," perhaps the best song on the album with a style more rooted in Thrash than pure Power Metal.  The intensity is not simply maintained but powerfully increased and truly smokes with well-placed pinch harmonics, tremolo picking, and chunky palm-muting.  Only those lacking a soul will fail to throw the horns for the chorus.  Another moment out of genre-mandated character is at the 2:38 mark of track five, "Price of Eternity" where the band jumps into a breakdown reminiscent of mid-90s PANTERA or "Burn My Eyes"-era MACHINE HEAD.  The last track, "The Lead Masks of Vintem Hill," is a mid-paced number with the vibe of "The Ritual"-era TESTAMENT.  There is an applaudable sense of urgency in the chorus with unique vocal flourishes where the singer leaves his self-imposed Bruce Dickinson comfort zone to don a Halford-like falsetto of metal scraping fury.  One cannot help but wonder why he doesn't do more of that.

Damir Eskic plays guitar with a True Metal conviction employing a style somewhere between Wolf Hoffman and Dimebag Darrell, though not quite as daring as either.  He is gifted in the ability to mix things up subtly with different rhythmic passages, well-executed sixteenth notes, and carefully placed pinch harmonics.  The vocals of Leandro Pacheco without doubt sound much like Bruce Dickinson as they are lacking any overly high or whiny parts but have a more aggressive edge.  Bass duties are handled more than capably by Pat Rafaniello as his playing is constantly in motion up and down the neck in the effort to not just make his four strings heard but known and felt.  Stefan Hösli is a solid drummer, hard-hitting with a judicious use of double bass.

To sum things up, the album is certainly to be recommended; however, it's difficult to pick up on anything truly cutting edge.  Sadly, the band shies from taking any daring risks which unfortunately translates to a lack of truly memorable parts. GONOREAS play Metal honoring IRON MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST, HELLOWEEN, ICED EARTH, SANCTUARY, and even TESTAMENT, but by constantly playing it safe, they have delivered an album on par with forgettable releases by any of the above.  Hearing "Puzzle" and "Seeds of a New Future" can get any fan of Metal pumped with adrenaline, but the band failed to maintain that intensity throughout the album.  Perhaps GONOREAS are a band whose magic truly lies in the live setting.  Often, good albums from great bands are best delivered on the stage due to the lack of intensity in the studio setting.  Being tempted by the greatness of a few songs, I certainly hope that is the case.

Songwriting:          7
Originality:              6
Memorability:      6
Production:             8

3 Star Rating

1. Bloodstones
2. Seeds of a New Future
3. Puzzle
4. Eris
5. Price of Eternity
6. Fragments
7. Behind the Wall
8. Minotaur
9. Transcendence
10.  The Lead Masks of Vintem Hill
Damir Eskic - Guitar
Leandro Pacheco- Vocals
Pat Rafaniello-  Bass
Stefan Hösli – Drums
Record Label: Art Gates Records


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