Monday, November 8

Minuetum - Haunted Spirit

Haunted Spirit


Greek power metal is always a grab bag. I don't know what it is about this country that inspires such a wide spread of styles within power metal, most of them sadly being unimpressive. There are some standouts of course (ELWING, NIGHTRAGE, EMERALD SUN), but on the whole the Greeks have a large quantity of mediocre-quality metal. Unfortunately for MINUETUM, I am going to go ahead and lump them in with many of the others. Granted, they do have a different style to go along with some talent, but not enough of either to make them stand out amongst a veritable ocean of their south European brethren.

I will hit the biggest point first, Dimitris Zaharopoulos is one of the poorer vocalists that I've heard in recent memory, and really taxes this album for me. He sounds strained, out of tune at times, and without a great deal of range that one typically wants and expects from a lead vocalist in this genre. My other issue with this album is the production. Nothing is really heavy, and maybe this is to be expected from a keyboard-dominated band, but the drums don't hold a lot of substance, and the rhythm guitar is never heavy or chunky. This wouldn't be so much of a problem, but there's some rhythm work that would benefit so much from some extra crunch.

In and of themselves however, the guitar lines are well written and well-played. There is some catchy and pleasant guitar work here which fits the mood and style of the band like a glove. Unfortunately, the guitars are often either too weak to stand out, or are buried beneath the poor vocal performance. It's especially sad on songs like “Ghost King”, when the vocals and guitars play in unison during the chorus, and the otherwise nifty sounding guitar lick is completely wasted. Mercifully, the vocals leave off as you'd hope they would during the solo section, and Jason Mercury (stage name?) shows us that he's capable of a bit of handy guitar shredding.

The other highlight of this album is the keyboard work. Dimitris Melidis is clearly an accomplished-keyboardist who is stuck in a position where he's the saving grace of the band rather than one of several important elements. This is very keyboard-heavy metal, and it's quite prominent in the mix, even when only playing backing chords or pedal tones. Probably a little too heavy, which will also prevent this album from becoming an excellent release.

So, what we've got with “Haunted Spirit” is a freshman release with the machine running full tilt, yet plagued by mechanical deficiencies (don't worry, there aren't any breakdowns here, at least). The keyboards and guitars make this an interesting listen-through, but the lack of really catchy tunes, the sub-par vocalist, and no presence of heaviness make for an album that doesn't have real staying power when matched up against any more prestigious group. I would go so far as to say that if the band keeps their current vocalist, they don't have much potential. There’s a whole lot of room for improvement.

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The Protagonist's Rating: 3.5 out of 10

Originally written for The Metal Observer

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