Thursday, February 24, 2011

Alexis - Birds Of Prey

Birds Of Prey
Pitch Black Records

Within the Chilean metal scene, singer/song writer Freddy Alexis is quite a well known name with a career that has spanned more than twenty years, and his involvement in groups such as Panzer, Inquisicion, Witchblade, Ronfive and Bewitched. The latest name to add to his long list of credits is his own solo project Alexis, which was recently signed to Cyprian label Pitch Black Records for his debut full-length effort ‘Birds Of Prey’.
With a studio band line-up in place (Who at the time included The Southern Cross guitarist Julio César Alcaíno, Arnion guitarist Carlos Sanchez, Baco bassist José Tomás Montecinos and drummer Gustavo Echeverría), and Alexis himself calling the shots in terms of sound and direction, it’s not surprising to find that Alexis is very much a vehicle for Alexis himself.
After a brief introductory piece (Which is typically titled simply as ‘Intro’), the album officially gets underway with ‘Shadows’, which is the album’s first single/promotional video clip. As you would expect, Alexis’ sound is clearly rooted within the traditional/power metal realm, with subtle progressive influences heard from time to time. Alexis himself has a strong and likeable vocal presence, and coupled with a strong sense of melody and structure to his vocal lines, easily elevates ‘Shadows’ beyond the stock standard dished out by most who attempt to emulate the same sound.
The slower paced ‘Golden Path’ does see the band demonstrating their ability to stretch their sound beyond the standard power metal sound with considerable success, while ‘Friendly Fire’ follows a similar path, but with a bit more punch in the drum sounds to give a bit more of an up-tempo feel.
But as strong as the album promised to sound throughout, it does have some weaker moments, such as in the plodding and overly long title track ‘Birds Of Prey’ and the Alexis’ attempt to emulate Judas Priest’s Rob Halford on the metallic ‘Metallizer II’.
‘Breaking The Spell’ does help steer the album back on track a little, but the closing sound effect instrumental ‘Forest’ fails to make any great impression, and instead gives a sense that it was simply tacked on to make up time at the end of the album.
The real saving grace of this album’s tail end is the inclusion of three bonus tracks, all of which are Witchblade numbers that have been given the remix and remaster treatment (All have previously appeared on both 2007’s ‘Ignition’ and 2009’s ‘Reborn’).
The acoustic based ‘Without You’ is without a doubt the stronger of the three, and a definite stand out cut on the album overall, while the fast paced ‘The Witchblade’ and the mid-paced ‘Killing Truth’ are further solid cuts in their own right.
Overall, ‘Birds Of Prey’ is a good album, and a good vehicle for Alexis to launch his own solo career. But in places, the album does suffer from inconsistencies in terms of direction and a unified sound, with the final trio of tracks showcasing the weakness within the more recent material. In the end, if traditional/power metal is your thing, then Alexis’ debut effort will no doubt satisfy. Personally, I would have liked to have seen the band stretch out and be a little more adventurous in the song writing department. But as it stands, ‘Birds Of Prey’ is good album, if a little unremarkable.

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© Justin Donnelly