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Balance of Power was started in 1995 by keyboardist Ivan Gunn by putting together a handful of well-known rockers from the London area. This batch included drummer Lionel Hicks, bassist Chris Dale, vocalist Tony Ritchie, and guitarists Bill Yates and Paul Curtis. In 1996, this line-up started working on what would be their first album, When The World Falls Down. The album was picked up by the Japanese label "Pony Canyon", and was released in 1997. It received significant airplay on the Japanese radio, being on heavy rotation by famous Japanese radio personalities. The album's success put the band under a lot of pressure by their label to produce a follow-up.

About this time, Paul Curtis was becoming fed up with life in London, and decided to retire from music altogether. Lionel and Tony decided to bring childhood friend, Pete Southern, to fill the vacant. Also, while the band was
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BALANCE OF POWER albums / top albums

BALANCE OF POWER When The World Falls Down album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
When The World Falls Down
Hard Rock 1997
BALANCE OF POWER Book Of Secrets album cover 4.00 | 5 ratings
Book Of Secrets
Power Metal 1998
BALANCE OF POWER Ten More Tales Of Grand Illusion album cover 3.00 | 2 ratings
Ten More Tales Of Grand Illusion
Power Metal 1999
BALANCE OF POWER Perfect Balance album cover 3.93 | 3 ratings
Perfect Balance
Heavy Metal 2001
BALANCE OF POWER Heathen Machine album cover 3.50 | 2 ratings
Heathen Machine
Power Metal 2003


BALANCE OF POWER live albums

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BALANCE OF POWER re-issues & compilations

BALANCE OF POWER Heathenology album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Power Metal 2005

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BALANCE OF POWER Perfect Balance

Album · 2001 · Heavy Metal
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Balance of Power have been completely off my radar until recently when, as I was flipping through an old metal magazine from twenty years ago, I read a raving review of this album. Intrigued, I decided to track it down and give it a listen: oh boy, what had I missed out on! Perfect Balance is a little hidden gem of melodic power metal, strongly recommended to anyone who has even a passing interest in the genre. But more about this later. First, let me briefly introduce you to the band. Balance of Power were formed in 1995 by a bunch of up-and-coming London-based musicians. After releasing their debut album in 1997, the band went through a couple of line-up changes, which included the vocalist. Enter Lance King, US-based singer with a past as session musician in several American hard rock/prog metal acts. The band and King will release three albums together before parting ways in rather acrimonious circumstances. Perfect Balance is the last album featuring King on vocals and, arguably, the best album released by Balance of Power in their career. After this, the band will release one more album with a new singer before disbanding.

Throughout their career, Balance of Power have always tried to combine two distinct influences. One the one hand, the neoclassical metal tradition of Rainbow/Malmsteen that inspired the European power metal revival of the 1990s. On the other hand, these guys have clearly grown up listening to a lot of AOR and arena rock. The sweet, super-catchy vocal melodies of bands like Journey, Foreigner, Asia and Toto left a definite mark on the impressionable minds of these young British musicians. Perfect Balance is miraculously suspended between these two poles. The songs are anchored in exquisitely neoclassical guitar riffs and arpeggios that could have been penned by Blackmore or Malmsteen themselves. Given these foundations, you would expect the songs to climax in powerful metallic choruses. Instead, quite brilliantly, Balance of Power bring in these massive AOR choruses that are sweet, light and catchy and that you just did not see coming. It’s an endearing combination that turns things on their head and gives a special freshness to their music. This is most evident on tracks like “Higher Than the Sun”, “Shelter Me”, “One Voice” and “Searching for the Truth”.

Elsewhere things take a darker turn as the music becomes less flashy and more pensive and melancholic. Songs like “Fire Dance”, “The Pleasure Room”, “Killer or the Cure” and “House of Cain” would not have disfigured on an album like Queensryche’s Promised Land, another audible influence of the band. It’s because of songs like these that the band is sometimes classified as prog metal. That and because Lance King’s impressive voice can sometimes remind of James LaBrie, especially when he sings in the higher register. But there is much less complexity in the nine songs of Perfect Balance than in your standard prog metal album. The song structure is in fact fairly simple, sticking mostly to the verse-bridge-chorus canon, with only minimal digressions and instrumental detours. Sure, there are plenty of solos and keyboard/guitar duels, but these also feature prominently on most classic/power metal albums of the era. And even the solos are kept in check to make sure they do not steal too much the scene. Balance of Power are not a band whose objective is to showcase their technical proficiency. No doubt, these guys can play: just listen to the superb interplays between the two guitarists Pete Southern and Bill Yates. But the band strictly keep their technical skills to the service of the song, differently from a lot of the progressive metal of the time, where technical wankery often took precedence over sensible songwriting. Take the rhythm section, for instance. Drummer Lionel Hicks is the album’s producer and bassist Tony Ritchie is one of the main songwriters. You’d expect flamboyant and complex rhythmical patterns, but instead the rhythm section is mostly focused on giving the song a good groove. It may be unspectacular, but it is very effective as it gives the songs the solid and steady base that is needed for the rest of the band to develop the melodic and harmonic motives.

At this point, prog metal aficionados may start to fear that Perfect Balance is a fairly pedestrian and unglamorous album. But that’s not the case. The arrangements are very classy and sophisticated, also thanks to the excellent contribution of keyboard player Leon Lawson. He features on the album as a session musician, which is surprising because the keyboard parts are all over the place and a truly integral part of the band’s sound. The production is super-clean and detailed, which is quite remarkable for a fairly unknown band on a small budget. The melodic hooks that are at the heart of the songs are truly excellent, resulting in compositions that quickly grab the listener’s attention and leave a lasting impression. This is particularly true for tracks like the excellent opener “Higher Than the Sun”, the Rainbowesque “Fire Dance”, and especially the trio of darker tracks that appear in the middle of the album, “The Pleasure Room”, “Killer or the Cure” and “House of Cain”. And then there is Lance King, a truly excellent vocalist. He has a great range and sounds equally comfortable with mid-range vocals and high-end notes. His tone is very warm and expressive and he reminds me of a cross between James LaBrie and Geoff Tate. He leaves his mark on each and every song he sings on. It is truly a pity that King and the band split ways after this record because theirs was a partnership that had so much potential.

Fortunately, before splitting up Balance of Power gave us this little masterpiece that goes under the name of Perfect Balance. It is not a faultless album, as it contains a couple of songs that can be arguably considered as fillers (“Once Voice”, “Hard Life”). Yet, it does leave a strong impression on the listener. It is very melodic and catchy, but never cheesy as a lot of AOR and arena rock can be. At the same time, it also has that Rainbow/Malmsteen vibe that will make any metalhead’s blood rush to the head. It’s a perfect balance, as per the album title. Do not miss out on this hidden gem!

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BALANCE OF POWER Ten More Tales Of Grand Illusion

Album · 1999 · Power Metal
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Formed in 1995 in England, Balance of Power play a fairly distinctive blend of melodic power metal, one where neoclassical metal riffs in the style of Rainbow and Malmsteen coexist with ultramelodic vocal hooks typical of AOR and arena rock bands like Journey, Asia, Bon Jovi and Toto. It’s a slightly unusual mix that injects a certain freshness into a genre, that of power metal, which by the late 1990s was overcrowded with dozens of Stratovarius clones all sounding exactly the same as everyone else. Ten More Tales of Grand Illusion is Balance of Power’s third full-length album, the second following the mini line-up revolution that took place after the band released their debut album When the World Falls Down in 1997. Original guitarist Paul Curtis and singer Tony Ritchie were replaced by Pete Southern and US-based vocalist Lance King, respectively. The lineup on this album is completed by drummer Lionel Hicks (who also produced the record), bassist Chris Dale and guitarist Bill Yates, with session musician James Walsh playing keyboards.

Musically, Ten More Tales ... alternates between light easy-listening tracks with plenty of catchy melodic hooks (“Day Breaker”; “Under the Spell”) and more muscular numbers, where the classic metal influences are stronger (“About to Burn”; the Priestesque title-track). Often the two style coexist in the space of the same song, as on the excellent “Prisoner of Pride” which moves between an exquisitely Rainbowesque riff in the verse and a gorgeous AOR melody in the chorus. There are also a few ballads where Balance of Power show traces of yet another of their influences, that of Queensryche (“Savage Tears”; “Blind Man”). This is partly due to King’s voice that can at times sound remarkably similar to Geoff Tate’s, but also to the emotionally powerful atmosphere of these songs that are stuck in a beautiful place between grandeur and melancholy, like many Queensryche's classics. The variety of styles and influences that are injected into each song is undoubtedly one of the strengths of the album, which sounds fresh, interesting and dynamic, and leaves no room for boredom.

The five musicians put in strong performances throughout and the band sound very tight as a result. The guitar parts are excellent. Southern’s riffs are powerful and melodic at the same time, in the best tradition of guitar greats such as Blackmore and Malmsteen. The rhythm section keeps things simple, favoring groove over intricacies. This works well as it allows the guitar work to shine. The keyboard interjections are used sparingly to add complexity to the arrangements. While the keys will be more dominant on later albums, on Ten More Tales … the guitars have the lion’s share of the music. On this excellent basis Lance King’s voice is the proverbial icing on the cake. The man has an impressive vocal range and sounds comfortable both when he uses his mid-range and when he climbs up towards the highest notes. He also manages to be expressive throughout his range, a quality that is relatively uncommon among power metal singers (I lost count of the number of sterile high-pitched squeals I had to endure while listening to power metal albums of the time). King's strong performance is one of the highlights of this album, as of all the other Balance of Power’s records where he performed.

Despite strong performances and interesting musical ideas, Ten More Tales … isn’t the strongest album Balance of Power have released in their career. Its biggest limit, in my view, is that some of the material is somewhat lackluster. It seems to me that on this album Balance of Power are still looking for the perfect formula to write the music they hear in their head. At times, everything falls into place and then we have first-rate numbers like “Prisoner of Pride”, “Savage Tears”, “About to Burn” and the title-track. But elsewhere things drag a little. The ballad “Blind Man” is overlong and tepid, its 6:51 minutes seemingly lasting forever. “The Darker Side”, yet another ballad, is too pedestrian and saccharine. Tracks like “Under the Spell”, “Under Innocence Wing” and “Sins of the World” are fairly unremarkable, lacking the melodic punch of the album’s better tracks.

Overall, the quality of the material on Ten More Tales … is too heterogeneous to allow me to rate the record higher than this. Nevertheless, this is a good album that will please fans of the more melodic side of metal. It confirms Balance of Power as a “band to watch” and Lance King’s as one of the most talented singers in the metal arena. But if you are new to the band, I recommend that you start from their next album, Perfect Balance, which is where Balance of Power's great promise will come to complete fruition.

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