Dance with the devil...
Genre: progressive metal
Fans of Lars Eric Mattsson must really be having the year of a lifetime. Not only are they treated to a rerelease of "Obsession"; there is also a new album from Mattson-led prog power metal project Book of Reflections. "Relentless Fighter" features Mattsson on guitars and Carsten Schulz from Evidence One and Marjju Kuikka of Status Minor on vocals and as co-writers.
Musically, "Relentless Fighter" is slightly heavier than Mattsson's other projects but the neoclassical guitar acrobatics for which Mattsson is famous are retained. Overall, the tracks on this album are quite progressive, featuring odd time signatures and spacey keyboards, which are put to quite good use in creating progressive quirks that go well together with Mattsson's neoclassicisms and the epic power metal-oriented choruses. I do think that the keys are perhaps a bit too dominant in some parts of 'Rise Up!', but that is probably just me.
The songs are very well put together, and I think that tracks like 'Until the Day', 'Dance With the Devil' and 'Crashing Through' are excellent, and I especially like how the synths combined with the neoclassicist approach remind me a bit of Rainbow. Other noteworthy tracks the heavy and groovy 'Somewhere Else to Be' and 'Gates to Oblivion', the latter being an instrumental with an eastern flavor to it.
While I really like the vocals and the guitar work, I think that the production is a bit too fuzzy, and the drums sounds very mechanical. This detracts a bit from the overall listening experience, but - fortunately - the music itself is still strong enough to hold its own (a more defined production and a more organic drumming style would have warranted a 4 or even 4.5 score, though).
"Relentless Fighter" is a fine guitar-driven progressive metal album with power metal elements and plenty of neoclassicisms to satisfy any fan of guitar shredding.