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Mad Hatter's Den - Excelsior Award winner

Mad Hatter's Den
by Marcos "Big Daddy" Garcia at 21 August 2016, 9:52 AM

When we speak about Heavy/Power Metal these days, we think about Italy and Germany as the greatest warehouses of the style in Europe. But Big Daddy here can't understand why in the blazes some people forget that Finland gave many great names for the style to the world, giving birth to bands as STRATOVARIUS, SONATA ARCTICA, SINERGY, their greatest name on the style. One excellent new name from those fertile lands is from the sextet MAD HATTER'S DEN, who released their newest album, "Excelsior". As this is their second album, I must say that here you'll find a heavy and melodic way into Heavy/Power Metal, but being more aggressive than some compatriots, but having a great melodic aesthetics, as we can see on the chorus and great backing vocals (an AOR influence that enters their musical work). But the band's music is melodic, tender and accessible, as well as it's catching. Be prepared to be hooked by their music, dear nephews and nieces!

The sound production is really great, because the album's sonority is excellent. It's heavy and clean, and almost perfect in both ways. The instrumental tunes were chosen wisely, to keep their musical aggressiveness, but without tearing apart the melodic aesthetics. The songs are all excellent, so you can hear "Excelsior" from its beginning to its very end without problems or complains. But their best moments can be heard on the heavy and charming "Break the Chains (Into the Black)" (where the heavy weight is perfectly balanced with fine melodies, very good rhythmic changes, and the vocals are excellent, remind sometimes the way Warrel Dane used to sing some years ago, on his SANCTUARY times), the fine keyboards and guitar riffs arrangements on the hooking "Birds of Prey" (and pay some attention to the chorus), and the heavy melodies on "Masters of Hate" (where bass guitar and drums are doing a fine work on the rhythmic session, along with pretty fine backing vocals), "Trail of Fears" and its great traditional Heavy Metal inspiration (if you think about IRON MAIDEN when you hear this song, you are right, due the very good use of melodic guitar duets),  the astonishing melodies of "Hero's End (At the Silver Gates)" (where guitars riffs reign supreme once more), and the oriental melodies show on "The Aftermath". Excellent album, no doubt about it!

Originality: 7
Songwriting: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Eye of the Storm
2. Break the Chains (Into the Black)
3. Birds of Prey
4. Masters of Hate
5. Trail of Fears
6. Through the Unknown
7. Guardian Angel
8. Hero's End (At the Silver Gates)
9. Ascension
10. The Aftermath
11. Not of this World
Taage Laiho - Vocals
Kari Korhonen - Guitars
Jaakko Hänninen - Guitars
Petja Puumalainen - Keyboards
Harri Hautsalo - Bass
Tapio Korkeila - Drums
Record Label: Inverse Records


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