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Fallin' Time - Point of No Return
Fareri, Francesco - Forbidden Dimension
Fareri, Francesco - Secret Within
Farther Paint - Lose Control
Fates Warning - Still Life
Fatima Hill - Aion
Mike Fillius - Volume One CD
Fiorletta, Simone - Parallel World
Fiorletta, Simone - When Reality Is Nothing
The Flower Kings - Unfold The Future
Forgotten Suns - Fiction Edge One (Ascent)
Fountain of Tears - Fate
Fractured Dimention, The - Towards The Mysterium
Friedman, Marty - True Obsession
From Behind - Game Over


Fallin' Time - Point of No Return
99th Floor
(1999)

I never expected how good this band was. Actually, I found out that the cd of Fallin' Time is relatively lower price at The Laser's Edge website, so I gave a chance to this band. Fallin' Time is Italian progressive power metal band featuring both female and male lead vocalists. Point of No Return is based on the concept story of the angel who got fallen and search new way of life and reflection of herself (himself?...I am not sure the gender of the angel). The band themselves try to play some hard driving displays and soft moments based on the story of inner conflicts and tranquility from the angel on the theme of Point of No Return. Musically, they go between Italian Metal and powerful driving prog metal with nice keyboard works/laserbeam solos and heavy guitar riffages/blisterning guitar solos. In the beginning, I thought this is kind of bargain price, so I only expected decent product. But my assumption is totally wrong in a good way. Perhaps, they appeal to the fans of both typical Italian Metal and Prog Metal fans who enjoy the bands who have some emphasis on some power metal side. Lots of speed and faster tunes with proggy metal sections.

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Fareri, Francesco - Forbidden Dimension
Lion Music
(2005)

Even though this is my first time to encounter Francesco Fareri's music on Forbidden Dimension, Francesco is a quite well-known Italian shred guitar player among neo-classical and technical guitar fans all over the world. I remember that guitar kids and freaks have raved about Francesco's super-shred guitar techniques. Although this is Francesco's first release from Lion Music, Forbidden Dimension is his official full-length 2nd solo album. Entirely, this album features hot-burning neo-classical style complex guitar works and superbly fast tunes. To be honest, this is one of finest neo-classical flavored intricate guitar works I have heard in 2005. This album definitely brings me to say WOW and WOAH. Besides Francesco's intense guitar solos, he successfully invited notable guest keyboard players, such as Vitalij Cuprij and Bob Katsionis. Both musicians contribute this album with their amazing shred keyboard solos and quite furious unisions. I think neo-classical HM fans would love Francesco's bombastic and technical approach on Forbidden Dimension quite a lot. In my ears, all players on this album put all energy into it, and just totally burning!! Quite surprisingly, they do not tone down or slow down a bit. What a monsterous musicians they are!! Highly recommended for the fans of Shrapnel guitar music and shred neo-classical HM. This album totally smokes!!

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Fareri, Francesco - Secrets Within
Lion Music
(2007)

Secrets Within is the latest album from Italian neo-classical/progressive shreder. This cd can be divided as two parts: Neo-classical shred side and acoustically challenged side. If you've already checked out his previous album, then neo-classical shred part sounds very familiar to your ears. I really enjoyed the tracks getting involved by Bob Katsionis mostly from the shred side. The interplay between Francesco Fareri and Bob is quite exciting on the challenging instrumental tracks. Just like the fantastic previous album, neo-classical/progressive metal shred style blows me away quite a lot. All musicians on this cd are in high spirits to play over the top intense neo-classical power metal. On the other hand, what I've been very amused is actually acoustic/unplugged tunes. Francesco did great job on acoustic side as well. I admire such acoustic guitar and piano sounds that mesmerize me very much. If you are into shred-kind instrumental music, then this is a quite interesting for you.

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Farther Paint - Lose Control
Lion Music
(2008)

In the very end of 2008, Lion Music introduced a really fresh new comer from prog metal field. Again, it's another great new one, indeed to my tastes. :-) Farther Paint are coming from Italy, but it's a little bit different from typical Italian style prog metal influenced from Dream Theater (however, there have some similarities with these Italian fellows as well.) Of course, they pull off some intricate instrumental parts as other complex prog metal bands featuring keyboard players would do. Additionally, they use lots of contemporary keyboards/synth sounds. Somewhat, the keyboardist of Farther Paint seems to be into more techno/electronica/rave type music, but it does not distract me from enjoying their sounds. Perhaps, he is the guy who is responsible for bringing new elements and twists and turns to make their prog metal music contemporary and somwhat cyber-esque. Stylistically, the music of Farther Paint would have a good chance to appeal to the fans of Lanfear's extraordinary classic 'Zero Poem' album or Italian prog metal group Icycore's debut cd. Yeah, I think there are some similarities between Icycore and Farther Paint. To my ears, the instrumentation of this group is really impressive and quite fascinating, due to dynamic instrumental displays and tempo changes, etc. Btw, this group's vocalist is not a guy, but somewhat an attracting woman. Her style resides in the realm of pop rock music, but her performance is quite pleasant entirely. If you look for the female singer like Anneke of The Gathering or Ebony Ark's singer, then you would not find anything like that. The style of Farther Paint's singer is not anything related to Symphonic Gothic Metal/Atmospheric kind of genre, so please be alert. Intentionally or not, they try not to exaggerate heavy crunchy guitar sounds. Rather, they put the emphasis on clean sounds I guess. Occasionally, you find some intense guitar parts and intricate soloing as you listen to the cd carefully, though. If you are into guitar-dominated metal, you'd get disappointed that there are not many cranking-up guitar solos. Overall, I've been enjoying the Farther Paint's debut album quite a lot. Actually, sound production of this cd is pretty good, too. Their career has just rolled off as a pretty good start. Highly Recommended for someone who is into different style prog metal, but the quality and instrumentation are very impressive.

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Fates Warning - Still Life
Metal Blade Records
(1998)

Just recently, I have finally got a Still Life by Fates Warning. This is pretty good 2 CD version including their live performance in Europe (during April 1998). In addition, suppporting members are cool, such as Jason Keazer of Divine Regale (keyboard), and Bernie Versailles of Redemption (guitar). An entire live version of A Pleasant Shade of Gray is magnificent. Still Life proves that Fates Warning has been indeed one of most important prog metal bands out there.

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Fatima Hill - Aion

World Chaos Production
(2002)

Well, overall I do not think this band is Prog Metal. I would rather say that FATIMA HILL is kind of traditional Japanese Metal band influenced by LOUDNESS, VowWow, and ANTHEM with a few elements of epicness and proggieness coming from Novela (Japanese symphonic rock band), Providence, and Marge Litch. On some parts, they remind me of a bit of DAVID CHASTAIN style, too. Esp., lead guitar player of Fatima Hill shows tasty guitar leads and powerful guitar riffs. The singer of Fatima Hill is kind of operatic style like Marge Litch, Teru's Symphonia, Starless, and such Japanese Prog Rock/Metal bands. I think if you are into Japanese Metal in 80s style and good old days Power Metal, FATIMA HILL might be interesting band from Northern Japan (Hokkaido area). Sound production is just ok, but not really great. Kind of darker side of Japanese Metal band. So far, I enjoy listening. Esp, lead guitarist of FATIMA HILL occasionally shreds in a style of...kind of DAVID CHASTAIN for my ears, I like Fatima guy's guitar playing. Fatima Hill - Aion is good one for fans who like both 80s Japanese Metal and 80s Japanese heavy prog.

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Mike Fillius - Volume One Cd
Independent Release
(2001)

NY based guitar player's solo album, Mike Fillius volume one cd, contains high energetic guitar instrumentals with various elements of metal, fusion, blues, surf, and rock with unique way and interesting approach. Even though it is released as independent production, actually sound production is very crisp and well-made. The formation of his band consists of Mike Fillius (guitar/bass), Randy Gromley (bass), Lance Justis (drums), and Rich Berends (drums) as you know that Rich is a help from energetic prog rocker, Mastermind. Definately, the focal point must be Mike's fluid and killer guitar phrasings and performance. Esp., he is very careful to choose the tones, sounds, and melodic lines for fitting each song. It is evident that his guitar playing normally does not go beyond what a tune asks for. Mostly, every tune has distinctive hard driving and heavy sounds with metallic energy. Esp., his tunes like "Trespassing" and "Normad" have really heavy and crunchy directions. On the other hand, a few songs of this album give different atmopsheres, emotional, and calmer feeling; e.g., Volume One has some strong surf-rock tones (on his cover tune of Ventures' classic "Pipeline"), rhythm and blues-esque rocking "Spillway Jam", and emotionally driven hot track, "In The Past". Overall, His guitar performance should appeal the fans who enjoy the tones and guitar playings of John Petrucci, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Vinnie Moore, Tony MacAlpine, Eric Johnson, Mattias "IA" Eklund, and Torben Enevoldsen. It is kind of hard to compare other guitar instrumentals. Nevertheless, Mike Fillius - Volume One cd is well constructed and energetic guitar-oriented album to enjoy listening. Actually, driving rhythm & nice groove created by his band is really rocking, hypnotic and comfortable. What this album on the whole sets apart from other guitar instrumentals is diversity and various elements blended really well like nice fragrant and potpouri. His volume one cd is really cooked well and balancing out pretty well in the song writing department. His album's approach is kind of similar to vocal oriented rock albums, so there is no filler, nor boring moments at all. Every tune shines and sings, just like a vocalist sings emotionally in a vocal oriented track. Highly recommended for the guitar music fans. Probably, if you read the word of guitar-oriented instrumentals without vocals and keyboards, most stuff might turn off such people who is not interested in instrumentals. In the case of Mike Fillius, volume one cd does not belong to such case. It is quite enjoyable listening joyride for me with his music. Perhaps, Mike Fillius is one of very few interesting and unique guitar players not to over-indulgind, rather concentrated on making interesting hooks, good vibes, fluid playings, and chunky sounds. He deserves more attention. If you die-hard guitar freaks, you should keep in mind his works.

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Fiorletta, Simone - Parallel World
Lion Music
(2005)

Parallel World is an Italian prog metal band Moonlight Comedy's guitarist Simone Fiorletta's first solo instrumental album from Lion Music. I think it's pretty interesting phenomenon that Lion Music usually gives a fairly good chance for the guitarists to make both band efforts and solo works, e.g., Marcel Coenen, Lars Eric Mattson, Cyril Achard, Bob Katsionis, etc., to name just a few. Anyway, Simone Fiorletta takes a chance to have finished working on his brilliant first solo album. Simone's first album contains fresh and lively guitar instrumentals with speed and agressive energy. I think most tracks on 'Parallel World' do not have similar vibes like what Moonlight Comedy do, except for some songs having proggy metal bombasts. Stylistically, Simone Fiorletta's guitar instrumental works remind me of Neil Zaza, some Shrapnel and Legato guitar works. Overall, he made his own guitar-oriented tracks with nice melodic sensibilities on this 1st solo album. I hope he is going to make another great album in the future. In conclusion, I would say that Simone Fiorletta is one of young talented Italian guitarists/prog metal musicians. Both his Parallel World and Moonlight Comedy shows promising future in my opinion. Well-done job, Simone :-)

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Simone Fiorletta - When Reality Is Nothing
Lion Music
(2009)

Italian technical guitarist Simone Fiorletta returns with his fine third album called 'When Reality Is Nothing'. He has been constantly releasing quality new solo album with his main band Moonlight Comedy that showcase brilliant prog metal style music. On this latest album, Fiorletta plays his versatile guitar-oriented instrumental songs and great soloing helped by his excellent fellow musicians: Andrea De Paoli (keyboards) from Labyrinth, Matteo Raggi (bass), and Marco Aiello (drums). Along with core band members for Simone Fiorletta, there also include some notable guest musicians: amazing and great guitar player Neil Zaza this time, Fabrizio Auri (drums), another Lion Music artist Mistheria (keyboards) and almni of Moonlight Comedy featuring Valerio D'Anna (synth) and Armando Pizutti (bass). The contents of 'When Reality Is Nothing' are very tasteful and quite cathy for guitar music fans out there. The band of Fiorletta pulls off great ensemble and some complex parts witout doing excessively. His composition has appropriate amounts of intensity, emotion, and energy throughout this brand-new solo album. I could say that this is one of young Italian guitarist's best works yet. Nice sounding album with some intricate soloing and nice instrumental works from Simone Fiorletta himself and keyboard players. If you are into Moonlight Comedy along with Fiorletta's guitar performance, there is not a big percentage of prog metal influences as well. But basically, you understand this album displays the other side of Simone Fiorletta. Anyway, it's better to enjoy his prowess of guitar playing and varied compositional rock numbers. Stylistically, there are some similarities from other quality shred guitar players' works like John Petrucci, Neil Zaza, Milan Polak, and Joe Satriani in my opinion. Overall, the cd of 'When Reality Is Nothing' proves that Fiorletta is an excellent young guitar player polishing his compositional skills and song arrangements once again. This new album shows that he took another big step from his previous solo works in the department of songwriting. Highly recommended for guitar fans who are into melody-oriented tracks and fine instrumental works.

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The Flower Kings - Unfold The Future

Inside Out
(2002)

WOA!! This one is pretty awesome symphonic prog with interesting twists and turning influenced by some jazz/fusion colors, due to Jonas Reingold and Zoltan Cxorsz rhythm section..and also with Tomas Bodin's incredible keyboard works (he might be quite underrated keyboard player, but he is very AWESOME player!!). I know it is very late to catch up this monumental modern prog rock opus, but I start digging this cd. One of best prog rock albums in 2002. If you are KARMAKANIC cd fan, you need to grab this one. In my case, it took a little time to appreciate Unfold The Future (because this cd is 2 cd set having more than a couple of looong epic tracks). However, nowadays I totally appreciate their symphonic epic prog sounds heavily influenced from 70s European prog and some elements from jazz/fusion, such as Miles Davis and Chick Corea on Unfold The Future. It is funny to say, but this cd really appeals to listners who enjoy listening to both sympho prog in 70s style and good old days of fusion.

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Forgotten Suns - Fiction Edge 1 (Ascent)
Galileo Records
(2000)

I have not usually encountered the bands from Portugual very often. I only heard previously the music of atmospheric powerful metal band called Moonspell that played dark moody music with heavy edge. Later, I encountered young talented Portuguese neo-prog band, Forgotten Suns (courtesy by Mr. Mattias Noren). In the circle of neo-prog and prog metal music, there had some good buzz going on about Forgotten Suns. Indeed, Forgotten Suns plays some sort of blending the elements of Marillion and Dream Theater with symphonic touch. Fiction Edge 1 is obviously concept story which is based on the beginning of the universe and man. Probably, the volume of mixing or production is a slightly lower. But the music and instrumentaion has been done really fantastic. Forgotten Suns have symphonic and neo-prog tastes lending from Marillion and Yes, and heavy and complex ensembles influenced from Dream Theater. Overall, it has some comfortable feeling and energetic moments together. Fiction Edge 1 has epic feeling with beautiful artworks by Mattias Noren. Quite nice new symphonic neo-prog act for the listeners who enjoy both neo-prog and prog metal genre. Definately, I hope to hear their next offering.

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Fountain of Tears - Fate
Independent Release
(2007)

If I am not mistaken, this is their second album from U.S. atsmospheric prog metal group. Once their first album had been highly praised in the underground atmospheric metal scene, I was always curious about how it would sound like. Finally, I gave a chance to find this album; my impression about this album is a kind of technical atsmospheric metal sound with the hints of prog metal. Actually, this group's main focus could be a female fronted complex metal with some gothic vibes. That's why I feel their music would be categorized under the file of atmospheric metal. However, the musicians of this group include a few members who used to be playing for technical thrash metal groups like Believer and Sacrament, so some elements of this group has certain progressiveness and complex metal flavors. Overall, Fountain of Tears put the emphasis on female fronted atsmospheric, yet complex metal approach over intricacies. It is not quite accurate to say that they are typical prog metal group, because of overall feeling and atmosphere the music of theirs bring. To me, their music has similarities and some common grounds like Rain Fell Within and Dreams of Sanity a bit. Probably, they need to work on sound production a bit to improve for wider audience, but overall the music presented on 'Fate' could be appealing to atmospheric female-oriented metal and complex metal fans.

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The Fractured Dimension - Towards The Mysterium
Independent Release
(2008)

Towards The Mysterium is the first album of this technical metal/instrumental prog metal group from the United States. The Fractured Dimension mainly consists of ex-Power of Omens' Alex Arellano (drums), keyboard player Jimmy Pitts of Scholomance/Super String Theory, and the bassist Jerry Twyford from Scholomance. Along with three main instrumentalists, I'm a bit surprised to find notable names of the prog metal and technical scene, such as Ron Jarzombek (Watchtower) and Marcel Coenen (Sun Caged and ex-Lemur Voice) with some other guest guitarists. Personally, it's really good to see the name like Aaron Rotten from Super String Theory again. Aaron contributes some guitar solo among other excellent guitar players on the album. Even though the Fractured Dimension does not include any official guitar player of this group, all guest guitar players effectively compliment the instrumental parts of Arellano, Pitts and Twyford. Besides some guitarists on the guest, you also hear other guest instrumental performers including Jim Shannon (trumpet), Joe Deninzon (violin), Joshua Thomson (alto sax), and Mike Prescott (tabla kit) in some spots.

Speaking of my impression about the cd of Towards The Mysterium, these muscians perform incredibly intense progressive metal with technical chops. Somewhat, their musical style could appeal to the listeners who usually get into the technical oriented bands; e.g., Spastic Ink, Watchtower, and Canvas Solaris. In addition, they lean on some kind of avant-gard style fusion with modern classical elements, due to Jimmy Pitts' compositional inputs. Although there are not many common grounds at all, some experienced prog rock listeners would almost compare some similar atmospheres and intensity of The Fractured Dimension with the bands like Mats & Morgan, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, and Univers Zero. But please do not get me wrong; The Fractured Dimension has successfully found their own sounds and style on this album. Therefore, nothing to worry about it if you wanna give a try.

The music structure of this group is usually very complex and quite intricate, but they do not get into self-indulgence or buried in the technical shreddings or meaningless wankery. In spite of using advanced harmonies and radical time signatures, you'll find constant melodic flows in the most instrumental sections. Most compositions of this latest album have been written by Jimmy Pitts. I've come to notice that his compositional skills are keys to steer in the right direction. Of course, the rhythmic contribution of Alex Arellano and Jerry Twyford is very important to put the music together dynamically. According to the liner notes on the cd, one of very few enigmatic modern classical composers called Alexander Scriabin inspire the U.S. technical instrumental group in the first place. Then, they moved forward to create this latest album. No wonder it's harmonically very mysterious and intelligent throughout the most technically demanding pieces. In addition, there are also some chamber sounds and calmer, yet unconventional melodic arts appearing on the the cd. Occasionally, R.I.O. type progressive music groups come to my mind.

All right, let's have a look at this band's original members a little more closely. Once again, I'd like to mention Jimmy Pitts as an important figure of this band. Besides his compositional works, his keyboard soli are really astonishing and superb. I think that he's an accomplished piano/keyboard player whose synth solos and keyboard works are also very fresh and unique. Esp., the prepared piano segments on the tune of "Preparatory Action" exhibits Jimmy Pitts' daring and forward-thinking spirits. Oh, and the improvised synth solo on "Riteration and Extemporaneaous Noodling" with the tabla performance is a really brilliant treat as well. Maybe, some people might try to compare him with the style of Artension's Vitalij Cuprij. Both musicians are, of course, very proficient keyboard players without any doubt. Nevertheless, Jimmy's approach is much more unpredictable and geared toward more progressive-minded and modern classical music vein, rather than Vitalij's neo-classical leaning piano style, IMHO.

As I've mentioned earlier on the above paragraph, the rhythm section is very busy and mind-boggling on most songs, except for having a few calmer and atmospheric tunes without or almost no existence of percussions. It is my first time to get into the style of the bassist Jerry Twyford who also plays in the avant-garde death metal band Scholomance with Mr. Pitts. Jerry is also a highly skilled bass player who not only does support the foundation in the grooves and busy pulsating beats, but also pulls off technical solos and intricate passages in the important sections. To me, it's really good pleasure to hear amazing drum works from Alex, again, since Power of Omens disappeared from prog metal world. Alex Arellano is one of shining stars in this group. How could I describe his drum performance? Arellano's drumming and percussive odd-time beats are constantly flying through, just like what he had done similarly in the era of Power of Omens. It's quite strange to describe his drumming style is some kind of lead instrumental, but I recognize his rhythm parts are not merely typical drum percussion. If you are into the accomplished style of Mark Zonder and Virgil Donati, you could understand what I'm trying to say here. Every time I hear this kind of drum performance, I'm totally blown away by such intense beats and million notes. I really respect and highly praise his superior drumming skills. Arellano is definitely one of most talented, intimidating, and monsterous drummer in the scene of prog metal/technical metal.

Surely, the music of The Fractured Dimension is technically challenging and demanding for most listeners. If you are not familiar with this kind of technical and avant-gard prog fusion style, you would have hard time to get into. However, if you enjoy technically demanding music leaning toward strong musicianship with full of chops, then you'd have a great chance to find a big reward. I suggest that you need to spin the cd over and over again to pick up what's going on. The music structure of this band is very tight and solid, so I'm very satisfied overall. I enjoyed delving into their progressive instrumental music with serious attitude and some doses of unique essence. Congrats to the extraordinary technical music that The Fractured Dimension showcases here. Highly recommended for prog metal fans looking for something different and mind-boggling instrumental works.

[website] http://www.thefractureddimension.com/
[myspace] http://www.myspace.com/thefractureddimension

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Friedman, Marty - True Obsession
Shrapnel Records
(1996)

'True Obsession' is Marty Frieman's fourth solo full-length album. While having been very busy for Megadeth, he constantly had released a few other solo albums in 90's. True Obsession is one of his rockier albums having been released along the line with his first solo album, 'Dragon Kiss'. Unlike two previous solo album influenced by New Age and Soundtrack-style music, he goes back to hard driven heavy rock style in his earlier days on this album. There are both vocal featured songs and instrumental works. Personally, I really enjoy his prowess on instrumental tunes quite a lot better than vocal-oriented tracks. Esp., the tune like "Rio" shines through in particular with amazing arrangements and instrumental works. Somewhat, a few tracks have the vibes of kind of progressive metal flavors with some intricacies that I really welcome, Marty. Well, I am not sure this album blow away all Marty Friedman's fans, but this album really appeals to the fans of melodic oriented hard rock music. The musicianship on this one is really tight and quite solid, yet Marty showcases his beautiful and exotic phrasings. Highly recommended for the fans of Marty Friedman. Probably, this one might not be sensational album like Cacophony, Megadeth or his early solo album. But he composes and performs really nice heavy rock/metal tracks with his honest heart. Uniquely, this album has a capability to entertain both guitarists and ordinary rock fans.
[website: http://www.martyfriedman.com/]

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From Behind - Game Over
Lion Music
(2006)

A New European classic hard rock group's 1st album. From Behind consists of the veteran hard rock musicians, such as vocalist Nick Moore (Samson/Mammoth) and guitarist Manuel Charlton (Nazareth). Unfortunately, I am not very familiar with other members of this band, so I am not a right person to mention their background and history much further. What I can say is that all members of From Behind are right people to perform and express such classic heavy rock music. My impression about From Behind is that their music sounds similar to what ZZ Top and Aerosmith had done in 70s and early 80s. Indeed, some songs from this album are close to what Bad Company does. On the other hand, some uptempo/speedy rock tunes are related to early NWOBHM vibes. Overall, I enjoyed the latter half of 'Game Over' album, because of several dynamic rock sections and accessible instrumentation. Probably, the first half of this album would appeal to the listener who is more into 'in your face' style rock and bluesier songs. It's good to hear that the veteran hard rock musicians keep the flame of true rock sounds with the influences and traditions of British Hard Rock and Scandinavian heavy rock style injected as well. Although I do not say this album breaks all boundaries of rock music, what From Behind has achieved here is nice for classic hard rock music fans.

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