Power Quest
Master of Illusion

Knowing that Power Quest was formed by keyboard player Steve Williams and bassist Steve Scott after leaving Dragon Heart (now known as Dragonforce, of course) in 2001, you might expect some resemblance between the two bands. The good news, however, is that Power Quest spends less time showing off their technical wankery and puts more emphasis on the melody and the song. While you won’t find any mind-blowing guitar solos here, what you will find are songs that you’ll remember longer than most of Dragonforce’s work.

I quite enjoyed the first three tracks on this record. “Cemetary Gates” is a pretty typical upbeat power metal tune, but well done and catchy. “The New Machine” brings in a little prog and AOR influence, slowing things down a little bit. “Civilised?” opens with a great riff and one of the catchiest keyboard lines that I’ve heard in a long time. That’s saying something, as those who have read my reviews know my dislike of most keyboards. After those opening tracks, though, the annoying voiceovers kick in for the remainder of the record hampering my ability to enjoy it.

Of the remaining songs, the strongest is probably “Save the World,” which opens with one of the few dark moments on the record and features some really cool riffing in the lead-up to the first verse. Once the vocals kick in, it sounds like a cross between 1980s commercial rock and Queen, which is a recurring theme. The title track also has that feel, with a nice bouncy riff, a heavy ’80s feel and small doses of Rush and Queen. There’s also a bit of goofiness here. After a satisfyingly aggressive opening, “I Don’t Believe in Best Friends Forever” devolves into just the kind of song you’d think it would be from the title. No matter how good it is musically, once you hear the Nelson-like harmony singing “I don’t believe in friends forever/ I trusted you and you shot me down” on the chorus, it’s hard to take it seriously. I’m almost wishing for a voiceover to come along on that chorus.

Naturally, Williams’ keyboard is the featured instrument here, and surprisingly, the keys are done very well. He uses them like a guitar, and I never feel like I’m being beat over the head with it. The guitar work of Andrea Martongelli is solid, if not awe-inspiring, and has some very good moments, like the early riffing on “Save the World.” Vocalist Alessio Garavello is, essentially, a standard power metal vocalist. His vocals fall somewhere in the middle of the pack. They’re not amazing, but they’re not annoying either (except on “I Don’t Believe in Best Friends Forever,” that is). I do like the gruffer style found in the verse of “The Vigil,” and wish he would use that more, if indeed those vocals come from him, which I’m not certain about.

All in all, Power Quest delivers a safe, moderately enjoyable collection of melodic power metal tunes. There’s nothing truly adventurous or challenging here, but neither is there anything fans of the style should hate. It’s a shame that Napalm Records has opted to go the voiceover route, because I would have liked to have given this record a few more spins to let it grow on me a little more. Master of Illusion is a somewhat promising record, but not nearly promising enough to make me listen to the voiceovers more than once.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Fred Phillips
April 22nd, 2008


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