Break the spell...
Genre: melodic metal/hardrock
Saracen's latest effort is a metal-tinged melodic hardrock concept album, dealing with the life and hardships of Marilyn Monroe.
The tunes can be roughly divided into three groups - namely, ballads, heavy metal hardrockers, and AOR-friendly melodic hardrockers. I do not enjoy all of the ballads on the album, but 'Hold On' and 'Not For Sure', the former featuring Issa on vocals and the latter featuring Robin Beck on vocals, are pretty good.
The hard rocking heavy metal tracks count the straight hardrocker 'Make this Body Work' as well as 'Break the Spell' and 'Unfinished Life' both of which reflect the bands' roots in the NWoBHM movement of the late 70s and early 80s (in fact, 'Break the Spell' is an awesome track). 'Whither the Wind Blows' is a heavier affair which lies somewhere in between the all out metal camp and the AOR-friendly hardrock camp.
The AOR-friendly hardrock category subsumes the pair 'Norma Jeane' and 'Marilyn' (the closer and opener which share many themes and passages - neat, huh) and, to some extent, the slightly schizophrenic ballad-meets-boogie-rock track 'Who Am I', while the dark blues rock track 'Love Like a Razorblade' is in a category of its own.
There is a certain symphonic rock aspect to "Marilyn", or at least a sort of epic or big sound, due to the use of keyboards, and I would also say that there are some mildly progressive elements too, such as the use of saxophones in metal songs and keyboard figures that remind me a bit of "Duke"-era Genesis.
Not all tracks on this album appeal to me, but I really really like 'Not for Sure', 'Break the Spell', 'Unfinished Life', 'Whither the Wind Blows' and 'Norma Jean'/'Marilyn' and I would recommend this fine album to any fan of melodic traditional metal and hard rock.