|Review: Fool's Game - Reality Divine|
Label: Cruz Del Sur
Year released: 2009
Genre: Heavy Metal
Review online: August 10, 2009
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Rated 4.5/5 (90%) (24 Votes)
This was a surprise. I got this through Cruz Del Sur's new online promo system and was immediately just blown away. Fool's Game is a new band formed by ex-Division guitarist Matt Crooks, and I would say leaving that stodgy outfit was the best thing he ever did. He recruited Pharaoh axe-slinger Matt Johnsen, keyboardist Nik Van Dyn of Redemption, drum veteran John Macaluso (Ark, Yngwie, Starbreaker) and topped it off with Manticora vocalist Lars Larsen to form a supergroup of sorts – even though most of the bands involved are fairly obscure.
There is a strong overall similarity to Pharaoh, with involved but heavy riffing and complex arrangements. There is definitely a prog sensibility at work, but it is dense rather than sprawling and showy. The guitar work is thick, hooky and powerful, with stellar lead work. Macaluso's drumming is much more textured and subtle than anything remotely Power Metall-ish, with no double-kick in sight. I was unsure about Larsen as a vocalist, but he has really stepped up his game from the Roots of Eternity days and performs powerfully. The vocal lines are catchy as well as involving, and they avoid anything obvious or lowbrow. Pharaoh vocalist Tim Aymar shows up to share vocal duties on one of the album highlights "The Conqueror Worm", and he and Larsen mix perfectly together.
I'm trying to pick out strong points, but it's impossible, as this is just a nonstop tour de force of power, melody, and relentless heaviness. Complex enough to have depth without losing focus, melodic enough to be memorable without stripping down the compositions, this is an album that gets better every time I hear it. This is one of the best albums I have heard all year – if not the best, and Cruz Del Sur needs to get off their butts and start promoting it as such, like, now. You want a quote? How about "Best Melodic Metal album of 2009", "Absolutely Masterful", "The Debut of a Great Band". There, slap that shit on some stickers and get it out there. Fans of real, deep, intelligent metal should not miss this for anything.
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