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Fullforce - Next Level (SPV Records)

By: Kenneth Gallant

[7/10] I keep saying this over and over, but the power metal scene is truly oversaturated. This year alone, there has been a plethora of bands releasing material and on the SPV label, the trademark sound continues to carve out a niche too. This niche is basically a formula consisting of heavy metal kept in mid-tempo and featuring ballads, catchy refrains and a touch of keyboards for that added dramatic touch. Again, the formula is warranted for this type of sound and a band like Fullforce follow the blueprint closely to full effect.

The band is a supergroup of sorts, especially when you factor in vocalist Michael Anderrson’s role in Cloudscape. His partners in crime Stefan Elmgren and Anders Johansson have both spent time in Hammerfall, and Tommy Larsson had a brief stint in Dream Evil. New to the group this year is current Cloudscape guitarist Stefan Rosqvist to round out the impressive pedigree of musicians taking part in this project. So you might be expecting an orgy of prolific sounds to be had on their second release Next Level and this is exactly what you get.

The music on this release often borders on hard rock, but the majority of songs venture off into that power metal formula I mentioned at the top of this review. Songs like “Whisper” and “Karma” both remain heavy and prove the band are very skilled asserting that power metal base into their compositions. They can also display a more traditional metal sound on “Mysterious Way,” then provide some groovy moments on “Broken Dreams," “Visions” and “Back to Life.” So as a band they can definitely generate variety on most tracks and skewer the power metal template to make it a bit more interesting.

Next Level on a whole is exactly what you would expect. The music is solid and heavy on most tracks and there is enough progression to prove this sophomore release is headed into the right direction. Perhaps the addition of Rosqvist helps to flex some muscle and infuse some melodic punch into the mix, and if you like his work in Cloudscape then there is no doubt you will enjoy his role here. This release advances their signature sound and will appeal to fans that enjoy a melodic heavy metal band of this caliber.

 Fullforce official site

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