by Joe Mis
– Senior Columnist –
Change Of Time is the upcoming release from Greek power-metallers Secret Illusion. It is the quintet’s second full length album, and simply put – it is a good one. Melodic power metal is sometimes difficult to achieve smoothly, but the boys in the band have mastered the art.
Secret Illusion began in Athens back in 2007, formed by guitarist Filippos Papakyriakou and drummer Chris Stratigos. After selecting a lineup, the band dropped a demo in 2008, and recorded a full length album officially released in 2011 entitled Illusion. After some lineup teething issues, most notably the arrival of new lead singer Dimitris Giannakopoulos, Secret Illusion returned to the studio to do two EPs before tackling a new full album.
“Northern Lights,” a quick mostly keyboard intro piece opens the album, but the keys are backed by solid bass and drums, giving the listener a hint to things to come. It leads nicely into “Born Once Again,” a flowing and lyrical mid-tempo rocker with great vocals, precise drumming, and simple but effective guitars. “Point Of No Return” is pure power metal bliss – big guitars, choppy rhythms, near manic drums and great coordination from the entire band. This track displays the impressive top end of Giannakopoulos’ vocal range, and he handles it without overstepping or pushing. Ethereal keys back up Giannakopoulos (who sounds very much like Fates Warning’s Ray Alder on this track), and he gets to play with multi-layered harmonies. Gus Dibelas lays down some great keyboard riffs, while leaving room for Papakyriakou’s guitars to shine.
“Beauty Queen” is a drum and bass driven track with a number of classical overtones – very similar to some of Yngwie Malmsteen’s works – and a definite toe tapper. The guitar break on this track is definitely not classical YJM, however Papakyriakou manages to burn the house down in his own style. A beautifully done instrumental passage opens “Winter Poem,” and this soft ballad highlights the lower vocal ranges of all. The lyrics are delivered passionately – indeed the whole band seems to step up their intensity and focus, and the appearance of a children’s choir to handle some of the vocals is the icing on a near perfect cake.
The instrumental “Change Of Time” dials the speed and power back up, but the song goes through a number of tempos and timings, and features everything from atmospheric keys to machine gun drums to spiraling guitars over grunting bass – nicely done! Bass and vocals come to the fore on “Love Lies”
The mix itself is as clear an precise, as one would expect from power metal, but it seems too top heavy. There is a noticeable lack of bottom end, and while you can pick out all the bass notes, they lack real punch while the bass drums seem muffled – something to be avoided when there is a pile of double bass liberally scattered throughout the album. “Beauty Queen” in particular stands out as a track that definitely needs MASSIVE wall shaking double bass, but it just isn’t there. The trebles, particularly the cymbals, dominate, sometimes to the point of being a distraction. The mix mars what is in every other sense a truly strong album.
Secret Illusion’s Change Of Time should appeal to just about all power metal fans. Lyrically a bit on the softer side (no tracks about war, nuclear annihilation or black magic) but delivered with typical power metal enthusiasm,
Genre: Power Metal
Dimitris Giannakopoulos (vocals)
Filippos Papakyriakou (guitars, backing vocals)
Chris Stratigos (drums)
Gus Dibelas (keyboards)
Makis Petritsis (bass)
1. Northern Lights
2. Born Once Again
3. Point Of No Return
4. Perfect Fantasy
5. Beauty Queen
6. Winter Poem
7. Change Of Time
8. Love Lies
9. Words Left Forgotten
Label: Rising Records
Hardrock Haven rating: 7.5/10