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Scanner | Hypertrace and Terminal Earth (reissues)

by Justin Gaines
– News Editor / Senior Columnist —

Scanner - HypertraceWhen you think of the key bands in the early power metal scene, the ones in Germany that totally wrote the playbook for the whole genre, the same bands always come to mind. Helloween, Gamma Ray, Blind Guardian, and…Scanner? Well, Scanner obviously never got the attention and acclaim those other bands did, but they were just as vital in the early German power metal scene, and their music is just as exciting and worthy of respect as those bands’.

Scanner made their debut in 1988 with Hypertrace, which like Helloween’s Walls of Jericho shows how the speed metal sound was evolving into what we now know as power metal. High speed riffing and powerful melodies were paired with a distinct, high-pitched vocal wail. Michael Knoblich handled the vocals on this album, and he sounds a lot like Axxis frontman Bernhard Weiss. Adding to the vocal power is none other than Ralf Scheepers, who provided some killer backing vocals. Adding to the fun is the fact that Hypertrace is a conceptual album with a futuristic sci-fi story – like a prototype for what Iron Savior would do a decade later.

Scanner followed up Hypertrace a year later with Terminal Earth, an album that marked both a change in vocalists (former Angel Dust frontman S.L. Coe was brought in) and a step away from the conceptual elements of the debut. Stylistically, Terminal Earth carries on the blazing, hyperkinetic power metal sound found on Hypertrace. It also sounds a lot like what Gamma Ray would go on to do with their debut, which probably has a lot to do with how much Coe sounds like Kai Hansen. It’s another very strong power metal album, and even without the conceptual elements it’s every bit as epic as Scanner’s debut.

Scanner - Terminal EarthAfter decades out of print, Divebomb Records has delivered high quality reissues of both Hypertrace and Terminal Earth. Released to coincide with this year’s Record Store Day event (April 20), these reissues are limited to 1000 units each. They feature digitally remastered audio by Jamie King (who has handled so many other Divebomb reissues) and expanded liner notes that include an in-depth interview with founding guitarist Axel Julius. The Hypertrace reissue features the bonus track “Galactos,” which originally appeared on the 1989 Noise Records sampler Doomsday News Vol. I. They’re great looking, great sounding reissues, and given how hard the originals are to find, they’re likely to go quickly.

Sadly, near-constant lineup changes derailed the trajectory of Scanner’s career, so these two albums are considered cult classics instead of being revered the way Heading for Tomorrow, Tales From the Twilight World and the Keeper of the Seven Keys albums are. Still, if you’re a fan of classic power metal at all, these two albums are as essential as it gets. If you’re one of the few who already knew about Scanner, the remastering alone make these reissues a worthwhile purchase. For the rest of us, they give us the perfect way to discover a band that has been overlooked far too long.

Genre: Power Metal

Michael Knoblich (v – Hypertrace)
S.L. Coe (v – Terminal Earth)
Wolfgang Kolorz (d)
Martin Bork (b)
Tom Sopha (g)
Axel “A.J.” Julius (g)

Track Listing – Hypertrace

1. Warp 7
2. Terrion
3. Locked Out
4. Across the Universe
5. R.M.U.
6. Grapes of Fear
7. Retaliation Positive
8. Killing Fields
9. Wizard Force
10. Galactos

Track Listing – Terminal Earth

1. The Law
2. Not Alone
3. Wonder
4. Buy or Die
5. Telemania
6. Touch the Light
7. Terminal Earth
8. From the Dust of Ages
9. The Challenge
10. L.A.D.Y.

Label: Divebomb Records


Hardrock Haven rating: Hypertrace – 9.25/10 | Terminal Earth – 8.75/10