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Symphorce (Germany) - 2002 - "Phorcephul Ahead"
(64 min, Metal Blade)

Track List:

1. Speak My Mind 4:28
2. Unbroken 4:54
3. Slow Down 3:58
4. Longing Home 4:52
5. Moving In Circles 3:55
6. Falling Through Again 4:26
7. Your Blood - My Soul 5:33
8. Rage of Violence 6:23
9. Touched & Infected 3:20
10. Nothing Left 5:39
Bonus tracks:
11. Where Night Returns 5:25
12. Force Fed 5:50
13. In Times of Grief 5:29

All music, lyrics, & arrangements: by Symphorce.


Andy B. Franck - vocals
Cedric Dupont - guitars
Markus Pohl - guitars
Dennis Wohlbold - basses
Sascha Sauer - drums
H P Walter - synthesizer 

Produced by Frank & Dupont.
Engineered by A. Kohler at "House of Music".
Mastered by A. Kohler in Winterbach (same studios).

Preamble. "Phorcephul Ahead" is the third album by the German band Symphorce. Both of the previous albums of the band: "Truth To Promises" (1999) and "Sinctuary" (2000) were released by Noise Records. According to singer Andy Franck, Symphorce, which is a symbiosis of "Symphony" and "Force", is the best expression for the band's musical direction.

The Album. Stylistically, there are two categories of songs on "Phorcephul Ahead" (no instrumentals here). A blend of Progressive Doom-Metal and NWBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) is the largest of them and includes all but the boundary tracks of the album. These are Unbroken, Slow Down, Longing Home, Moving In Circles, Falling Through Again, Your Blood - My Soul, Rage of Violence, and Touched & Infected (2 to 9), and for the most part, all of them were performed up-tempo. Each of these songs features practically an equal number of original arrangements and those influenced by Candlemass and Iron Maiden, though the latter are evident mainly in vocals, and also in paired and some of the speedy solos of guitars. Both of the album's opening and closing tracks, Speak My Mind and Nothing Left, are about a pure, Classic Progressive Doom-Metal and are in the best traditions of the Godfathers of the genre, Black Sabbath. These two contain the passages of acoustic guitar that moreover, are amazingly interwoven with basic, heavy, musical textures and are undoubtedly the best songs on "Phorcephul Ahead". There aren't many of the parts of synthesizer on the album and most of them are used just as a background for 'battles' between the riffs and solos of electric guitars and the parts of rhythm section. And by the way, these 'battles' sound always effective - regardless of whether they're supported by passages of keyboards or not. The most impressive arrangements on the album are those that feature so-called complex stop-to-play movements and the odd meters, and such progressive features are present on each song here, without exceptions. All three of the bonus tracks were recorded 'live' at rehearsal - straight in the band's rehearsal room. To be honest, if I were in Andy's shoes, I would've never added them to the album, especially since its playing time exceeds 45 minutes.

Summary. If you like such musical directions as Progressive Doom-Metal and NWBHM in general and such bands as Candlemass, Memory Garden, and Iron Maiden, in particular, you should be pleased with this symphorcephul album as well. As for me, while I like everything well done in the vein of Candlemass (read Black Sabbath), I won't assert that the music on this album is the quintessence of the aforementioned sub-genres of Metal. Though Andy's joke about parallels between the band's name and its music is especially funny.

VM: February 24, 2003

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