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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

REVIEW: Attakk (US) - Attakk (EP, 1989)

Attakk was american traditional heavymetal / powermetal band hailing from California. They were mainly American with one Japanese member, guitarist Hideo Inakuma. None of the members were really known of any other previous bands, except the vocalist Dave Anthony, who sung in Shire previously releasing only one EP. It's a bit surprising really, since the band and guys here have very professional and polished sound, with sharp riffs, far from garage band dirtiness or sloppiness. Yet Attakk only released only this one EP and vanished soon after.

What we have here is late 80's EP considered as traditional heavy metal, mixed with late-eighties-early-nineties powermetal, with definite US powermetal sound. Dave Anthony has kind of a more commercial powermetal-like vocals, with that melodic soaring, from medium to high pitch, and he does occasional glass breaking high screams. Anthony has slightly rougher edge when using more medium than high pitch while singing, while turning pure melodic with higher screams. The latter one is what he uses majorly. He's actually quite good for what he does, and sounds like a professional, managing not to sound whiny while singing those high notes, unlike which happens to several less skilled singers, who attempt to sing power metal with high pitched soar. Nevertheless, Anthony's has perhaps a bit too commercial tone to it.

Guitar tone is very sharp and biting, yet melodic, not really hitting the heavier notes, but is very pleasant nevertheless. Everything is pretty crystal clear in sound-mix, which amazes me a bit from a band with no previous releases. Guitar work of Hideo Inakuma is very energetic and riffs are quite vivid with loads of hooks. Solos are flowing, leads have nice melody, and rhythm section bites when the band plays heavier songs.

Drumwork of Steve Pokory is solid good work, and I like Gary Lee's audible bassplay a lot. Philip Wolfe is credited for keyboards, which shine with their absence most of the time -- and appear just slightly on background with a few songs. This doesn't really bother me though, since the atmosphere might had been overly melodic and mellow, if the keyboards would had been bring too much to front.

What are the low-points of the album? I'd say it does perhaps pack up a few too many more "commercial" sounding songs and moments, so it all depends of the mood. Attakk EP is very vivid and soaring fine heavy / powermetal, but it's not very heavy nor very authentic by style. Well,  except of Inakuma's guitar work, which is almost comparable to something like early Crimson Glory at it's best: very melodic, very catchy, with good leads. As much as I think the singer sounds professional, perhaps more "heavier" vocals could had fit better, but who knows. I think that the EP's main low-point is that occasional over-the-top mellowness that's present in songs like "Not Your Man" and "Never Apart", of which the first mentioned features almost glam-metal-like groove and the latter sounds like overly cheesy Helloween drop-out-ballad. Still the band does very good job most of the time, and this EP generally manages to slightly surprise me by quality. The overall atmosphere is more uplifting and played in "major" scale than in "minor". The main problem with the EP is "inconsistency". Should they had blasted through the whole album, since this is where the band are at their strongest, instead watering down to glam / AOR -like lightweight waters from their medium-heavy sound.

Now that we got the worst songs out of the way...

...that leaves four more songs to it, of which Without A Word is your standard keyboard backed soaring mid-tempo heavy metal song, and, well, it's decently good one too. Luckily the rest three will impress more. Opening track "Thunder In The Night" is bit faster soaring track with those "galloping" rhythm-guitars, played in more mellow powermetal-fashion than in thrashmetal for example, and magical sounding guitar leads with some acoustic guitar fills are added to the background occasionally to spice wall of sound up. A bit like early Crimson Glory, but not quite as epic, or Witch Cross' Fit For Fiight (especially "Nightflight In Tokyo"), but not quite as memorable. Ride The Dragon is more speedy and rocking heavy metal number with chugging guitars leading on the track. Almost eighties Sinner (Ger)-like rhythm guitar riffs can be found here, combined with some more complex melodic leads and shredding by Inakuma. Great chorus and guitarwork! The closing track is titled simply "Attakk!", and has acoustic guitar lead-in, which turns into sort of melodic speed/power track, being speediest moment of the album. Third very good number, and may well be the best of the album with it's most energetic atmosphere.

Very good nice little EP with some inconsistency problems, but is well recommended for any classic soaring heavy/powermetal music fans. Slightly more commercial overall sound and few lackluster songs thin down the album quality a bit, but Attakk EP has some of quite memorable guitarwork and melodies. The band is at their best when they keep glam / AOR flavor down to the minimum and play at their heaviest, where they raise into a level of heaviness comparable to Witch Cross 'Fit For Fight', or something else that's almost medium-heavy, but not quite. If you're not afraid of the high pitched vocals then you're most certainly in safe zone. A pleasant surprise and worth getting for three great songs (and one decently fine).

Rating: 81/100

Sorry - not available through Amazon or Ebay at the moment

  • Gary Lee - Bass
  • Steve Pokory - Drums
  • Hideo Inakuma - Guitars
  • Phillip Wolfe - Keyboards
  • Dave Anthony - Vocals
    • See also: ex-Shire

  • 1. Thunder in the Night 03:54 
  • 2. Without A Word 04:13
  • 3. Not Your Man 03:38
  • 4. Never Apart 04:05
  • 5. Ride the Dragon 05:12
  • 6. Attakk 03:33
    • Total Running Time - 24:35

For Collectors:
(Following prices have raised since ’99 but will give you direction)
Used album price @ Martin Popoff’s Heavy Metal Record Price Guide (1999):

Sorry -.not presented in the book

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