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Sunday, November 21, 2010

CD Review: Powerworld - Human Parasite

Powerworld - Human Parasite
2010 SPV/Steamhammer
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

In the eighties, there were scores of hard rock and power metal bands who had all the talent in the world but never pulled the trigger in their work. A few names coming to mind are TNT, Rough Cutt, Shy and Icon. Sparkling players, a few memorable songs, excellent production under a big label blanket and its promotional firepower, but in the grand scheme, these bands never reached their true potential.

TNT may have a cult classic with Knights of the New Thunder, but Tell No Tales put them on the map for the wrong reasons. Rough Cutt's Wants You has some fine moments and it certainly enjoyed a couple months of hype, but in the end, the reason these albums floated out of the memory banks of the average fan is largely due to their safeness.

Germany's Powerworld is only on their second album, but when it takes 10 songs to generate a proper kick, that's playing the cards with a lack of efficiency that usually sends you packing from the poker table. With all the talent they could possibly hope for, Powerworld is unfortunately sitting on their music instead of turning it loose. Their sophomore effort Human Parasite could've been a bigger deal because it's polished, it has quite a few hooks, it boasts spiffy solos and an appealing lead vocalist.

The stigma to Human Parasite is its lack of well, power. There's simply not much bite to this album minus a few double-hammer ditties and the excellent, intricate "Tame Your Demons," which leaves an exclamation point of bewilderment. You just know by that one song Human Parasite and Powerworld has more to give, but it merely settles instead of deals out.

There's a commerical-mindedness to Human Parasite that one can detect without even listening deeply for it. The vibe Powerworld is seeking with this album however, went out of fashion with Keel's The Final Frontier and MSG's (circa Robin McCauley) Perfect Timing.

Powerworld, which is comprised of constituents involved in other projects, suffered a setback coming into this album when original vocalist Steffen Brunner and Jurgen Lucas left. Powerworld even admits in their bio they were forced into two-minute drill mode to get Human Parasite recorded, which is the telling tale of its output. No fault to new singer Andrew "Mac" McDermott and drummer Simon Michael. The fault goes to the time constraints placed upon this group.

Miraculous they sound this tight and cohesive, perfectly gelled, yet even with the tap-a-tap march opening the album on "Cleansed by Fire" and some terrific solo tugs by guitarist Barish Kepic, the song only hits a bare stride. From this point, Human Parasite goes upon a methodic and melodic course of light fare power jams and anthems which might've served up some good times on weekends circa 1986. For 2010, only those holding a candle for 80s L.A. are best served. "East Comes to the West" says it all, and it stands in theme as a distant cousin to fellow countrymen, the Scorpions, who have recorded similar, more memorable tunes. "Stand Up" carries a nice message, but it's borrowed retro dialed straight out of The Troubadour before Guns 'n Roses dirtied up its walls.

It's never fun to rag on a band who has musical capability and the wherewithal to come together in a hurry-up fashion. "Evil in Me" hardly carries a sinister tone and one gets the impression it might've had more chunk if Powerworld had ripped out a few more takes to lower the key and get mucky with it. Human Parasite hardly stinks, but it might've had more meat to sling if given the chance to breathe first.

Rating: ***


Carol said...

I absolutely don't agree! I think this one is GREAT!!! And it's even better than the first one! I was surprised in a very positive way. I love every song and I cannot understand your review!

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

Good, stand for you what believe in. Bless ya, Carol and thanks for reading.