FREQUENCY, Compassion Denied (2008, Scarlet)
Time was, if you wanted a big dumb skull on your album, you’d have to photograph one, or hire an artist to paint one (or draw one in study hall). For as dubious an aesthetic choice as it was, it was at least a conscious and aforethought decision. Nowadays, you can just email some guy on deviantART and ask for something evil, and he’ll photoshop a bunch of tentacles and tubes to some skull he found on the internet and call it a cover. It’s a shameless state of affairs which The Council has embraced only out of a relentless passion for big dumb skulls, and what is more dumb than mismatched and only barely anti-aliased Photoshop layers?
Workmanlike modern power metal not unlike Nocturnal Rites’ last few releases. Good singer, hummable hooks, lazy-but-acceptable riffing. Journeyman vocalist Rick Altzi (At Vance, Thunderstone, Masterplan) is the appeal here: a modern Dio disciple in the Russel Allen vein. As with most European power metal, when the singer is doing his thing, the guitarists are coasting on whole notes or undistinguished chugging, but when the singing stops, there are occasional moments of interest from the six (or, more likely, seven) stringers. The production is of the icepick-in-the-eardrums modern variety, all sharp edges and hard limiting, which makes it difficult to listen to the whole album at a go, but it’s probably best enjoyed piecemeal anyway, since all the songs start to sound the same by the end, even if they’re enjoyable on their own.
— Friar Johnsen