TRICK OR TREAT - review added 12th October 2009
Album Review: Toy Soldiers (2009)
For fans of: Power Metal... and Helloween
Italian band Trick or Treat started life in 2002 as a Helloween tribute act. Though they have gone through changes since their inception, the line-up of Luca Cabri (guitars), Alessandro Conti (vocals), Guido Benedetti (guitars), Leone Villani Conti (bass) and Mirko Virdis (drums) is not much different to that early covers band.
Nowadays, although Trick Or Treat write their own songs, they still owe their sound to those German metallers. There's plenty of other nods and winks in there to bands like Dragonforce, Judas Priest, even some tongue in cheek cheesy disco and classical compositions too.
Previous releases entitled Like Donald Duck and Evil Needs Candy Too suggest this band aren't to be taken seriously but, on the evidence of this release, not taking them seriously would be a disservice. To be honest, you only need to look at the album's guest list to know how serious to take this album - featured on a couple of tracks is none other than former Helloween vocalist Michael Kiske.
The opening track is a an intro, so first track proper is 'Paper Dragon', a speed-infused song that belts along like a cheetah towing a greyhound. It isn't the best song ever, but you can't help loving it. There's a massive bolt of charm built into its Dragonforce-referencing vibe. 'Take Your Chance' featuring vocalist Michele Luppi (Vision Divine) is even better. Where 'Paper Dragon' was a good song for this album, 'Take Your Chance' is a good song full stop. Great chorus!
'Freedom' is again Dragonforce fast, although perhaps with a more friendly tinge. 'Hello Moon' sees Michael Kiske's first entry on the record. The problem with having someone like him as a guest on your album is that he's better than you...more or less regardless of who you are. It's no different here. Alessandro Conti doesn't have a bad voice - far from it - but Michael Kiske is on a whole other planet. It's a great song and, with the material they offered him, you can easily hear why he agreed to sing on the album.
'Elevator To The Sky' is super-duper fast, beautifully melodic and very pleasant on the ears. The amusingly titled 'Loser Song' is not as funny as you might imagine, but still vaguely chucklesome. What it does do though is give a canvas for Mirko Virdis to show off his not inconsiderable drumming skills. Surely the man has got more stamina than you could shake a stick at...although, why you'd want to shake a stick at stamina I don't know.
'Tears Against Your Smile' sees Michael Kiske popping his head up again and yes, to an extent, it's another cracker. Whenever Michael opens his trap it sounds brilliant. Sadly it's also Alessandro's worst vocal performance of the record. The song is well written though and offers beautiful musicianship - especially the guitars - so on balance it's both brilliant and cack. 'Final Destination' sounds like Mark Boals era Yngwie Malmsteen performing a Helloween hit in the style of Dragonforce. The two part title track closes the album in understated style.
Good album this; not stunning, but solid and good. I don't imagine everyone is going to get on with the fast stylings and occasionally suspicious vocals but, for a hit of velocitized power metal you won't go too far wrong.
Check out... Michael Kiske's moments.