'Midnight Sky Masquerade'

(Prog Rock records)

MARK: 86/100

Herr Henning Pauly has cut his slice in the Metal market thanks to several projects, the last of which is the debut-CD of the Classic metal/rockers described on this occasion. Germany is and will be more and more the stronghold of traditional Metal, even more than the UK, and this is nothing but a further confirmation, musicaly and lyrically.
The trio gathered this time by the very active bald man shows us 13 tracks for over 71 minutes of Metal tributing the biggest names and taking rust away from the historical patterns thanks to a digital production. The main influences declared by the band themselves are as follows: Dio - Whitesnake - Iron Maiden - Manowar - Rainbow - Foreigner - Ratt - Quiet Riot - Uriah Heep - Yngwie Malmsteen - Europe - Ozzy Osbourne - Gary Moore - Cinderella - Alice Cooper - Judas Priest - Accept - Halloween.
So, no Prog rock? Surprised and disappointed? You oughtn't to, as Prog Rock records is smart enough to know that the spectrum of the human mood is quite ample and it is necessary to make way for other styles to fully satisfy its thirst depending on the feelings we deal with everyday; this of course without shaming the name it earned thru all these years.
"A Dragon Shall Come" starts the assault with tight HR sounds along with Teutonic Power metal structures; great energetic vocals and Judas Priestian-back-up vocals as well; the same you will find in the following "A Slave to Metal", rocky mid-tempo with an ineffable refrain. All of the lyrics are destined to defenders, and at the nth power these ones. Already stuck in my neurones, inevitably a must in the combo's live set-list.
The title-track, rich in lights and shades, ricochets with the solos and the dual guitar works, leaving a sign also in the Icelandic version, including an acoustic version of the same composition, more simple and suitable as a closure.
The acoustic guitar appears (together with drums and a slightly distorted second guitar) in "Goodnight Boston", a ballad oozing with West-Coast AOR and 80's flavor from begin to end.
Things turn Euro Power metal with "Darkness Comes to Light", fascinating Hard rock and Metal veined by Hammond B3 organ lines here and there and an excellent guitar solo on the trail of Eddie Van Halen.
Decidedly my favorite one, "A Beast Abandoned", opens and closes with a Steve Harris-like bass introduction and the rest also contains a few riffs and axe solos digging back the glory of Iron Maiden's first two milestones. Heavy rock fulla pathos.
The keyboards are the protagonists of "I Will Never Ever Stop", a song I didn't love immediately that I've learned to appreciate upon the second listen only, and another reference to the North American Class rock that made Dakota and similar acts popular.
Epic and warlike like the title suggests, "All Hail the Warrior" melts cutting riffs with battle-cries alà Manowar, and there's also room for shrill keyboards. Pretty good indeed!
Here comes "Kingdom of the Battle Gods", the longest song of the 13 presented here; a lullaby growing British Hard rock the way Deep Purple used to play a coupla decades ago. Class metal once again with a superb solo and the ten minutes fly by without you can even realize.
The record highlight palm definitely goes to "Spirit of the Elves", gifted with an irresistible chorus and steady references to Uriah Heep.
The recipe is changed again with "No Metal Son of Mine", old style Heavy rock with thin streaks of Foreigner in the refrain; the manner the song gets to the end, vocals and keyboard lines included pays plain homage to Alias, and with the last but one song before the above-cited bonus track. "Out of Control" shows that the German 3-piece got the balls and can create heavier material in line with Hammerfall, Primal Fear, the fastest Iron Maiden and the likes.
Divine solo and refrain that compels everyone to raise the fist forwards.
After all, a very positive debut-CD that should make fans of Hard rock and Heavy metal glad, independently on their generation, from 20 to 50. There is nothing new, yep, and the predominance of the mainman in the songwriting and recording might make someone raise their eyebrows, yet I assure you there is nothing that bad to complain about it, even tho it is a project band (so far).
That's why I'm so curious to learn whether this full-length will have a sophomore heir or not.

MARKUS GANZHERRLICH - April 20th, 2009

Line-up on this record:
Juan Roos - vocals (also in Transmission from Germany)
Stephan Kernbach
- keys on 2, Hammond B3 organ on 5 and 9 (also in Chain from the USA, Transmission from Germany)
Henning Pauly - everything else (also in Chain from the USA, Frameshift)

Wetzlar, Hessen - Germany
E-mail: henning@henningpauly.com
Official sites: http://henningpauly.com/


-Midnight Sky Masquerade (CD - 2009)