Centaur - God Complex


Year of Release: 1998
Label: B. O. Records
Catalog Number: 0073772
Format: CD
Total Time: 48:34:00

Whether or not Centaur looked at what Vanden Plas' The God Thing did for their reputation while making this disc is purely opinionated, I'm sure, but you can't help notice the big change in the band since their last disc, called Perception. While God Complex isn't as dramatic as The God Thing, there is no denying the dramatic change that Centaur has undergone musically. The hyper jump from Perception is certainly noticeable, and while I thought that Perception was one seriously overlooked melodic metal gem, it would be a shame if the same thing happened to this disc. While other genres of metal seem to be flourishing, as witnessed by the emergence of power / prog, technical / prog, death / prog, etc. , etc, the lonely genre of pure melodic metal seems to be lacking in the resurgence and re-birth of metal. Bands like Centaur, Atmosfear, House of Spirits (RIP), and many others are indications that some bands still worship the melodic aspects of metal and keep pumping out melodic gems. Problem is, most people seem to think that the 80s was the decade of the melodic metal masters, and this is certainly not the case. While you probably pick out influences from just about any metal band, it doesn't mean that the music isn't as good, exciting, or even as fresh as it was back in the 80s. Enter Centaur, who seem to bent on bringing back that fresh, warm, metal sound left behind by the likes of Dokken, Whitesnake, and the rest of that movement. The difference is that it sounds too fresh and too exciting to be overlooked and compared to those bands of yesteryear. It's the late 90s, and this music sounds as though it was just born from this decade.

THE STYLE:

Simply put, it's melodic metal injected with progressive elements. Sure, most of the time you will get your familiar song structures, with verse, chorus, solo, back to chorus, etc etc, but this time the warmth factor is a bit higher, along with the bits of progressive moments that the band injects in their sound to keep it exciting and interesting. Guaranteed, if you like bands like Dokken, Whitesnake, and others of that era of melodic metal, you will certainly like what Centaur is doing for that sound in the late 90s. Complete with catchy songs without sounding wimpy, to some nice, heavy guitar riffs, offset with complementary background keyboards, the music just keeps you tapping and banging from start to finish. Show me most metal discs, and I'll show you at least one time where you have to hit the SKIP button for a song or two. It's great when discs show up where you don't have to do this and God Complex is one of them. Each song is arranged in a fashion that keeps you interested without feeling that the songs have the same structure as the one before it. The guitar drives the sound, with the keyboards providing a nice backdrop for it. Lots of double bass drumming, little guitar shredding or soloing, just 45 minutes of good, catchy, melodic warmth. The guitar sound is crunchy enough to soothe the metal in you, and if you know of the band Hollow, try to imagine what a sped up, more melodic version of that band would sound like.

THE BAND:

Vocals, guitar, drums, bass, keyboards. It's always nice to be able to say that one particular player or instrument stands out more than the others and work from there, but in this case, the whole band combines to make this sound work. Again, Hollow comes to mind, except that Centaur uses much more keyboarding than they do. Actually, for me, the singer stands out in this band much more than the other players do, only because with metal this warm, the singer has to match, and in this case, it's a perfect fit. For you musicians out there, I'd have to say that the drummer is a stand out, if only because the drum sound is so clean and natural, and he likes to drive the songs with that constant double bass run that is prevalent in today's metal. The guitarist actually drives most of the sound, with nice, chunky chords and basic, but effective soloing. The keyboard player uses nice intros to start some of the songs, including one that sounds like the opening sequence to the movie Psycho. If any of you remember the synth sounds that occur every time "mother" was about to kill someone, you know what I mean. The bass player is good, and again I say this because I can't find fault with anything he does. Overall, this band is one of the premier bands making melodic metal sound fresh again.

THE VOCALS:

One of the other shining parts of this band is the singer. Quite simply, Stefan Kebel sounds like a cross between Mark Vanderbilt ( ex-Kamelot ) and Tom Malicoat (Lethal). He has quite the voice, and never strays too far from his range, although based on some of the backing vox, he has all the ability to climb as high as he wants without problem. He does have that particular quality that Vanderbilt has when reaching high, which is one that I can only describe as annoying, only I am not familiar with this reaction. Some people has a problem with that tone, and I did not, but I can say that this guy sounds so close to Vanderbilt, that this may be the case again. Kebel also seems to use a David Coverdale style, at times sounding like a "bluesy" singer if you remember that quality that Coverdale possessed. Overall, Kebel is superb, and I can't imagine anyone having a problem with his voice, if you like warm, melodic metal singers. Don't interpret this as wimpy, he just has a pleasant voice, but he does use it aggressively when he needs to, opting to "push" the song towards you in addition to singing it. This is quite a treat, and it gives you the feeling that he really is into what he is doing instead of just playing the part.

THE PRODUCTION:

I thought that the sound on Perception was very good, if not limited in places. I had no problem whatsoever with the sound of that disc, and I can tell you that this disc sounds even better. It's more raw, in your face, and natural. If you can imagine what the transition from Kamelot's Eternity was to Dominion , you can get an idea of what this band has undergone in sound. Also, the drums have a Conception-type sound; boomy, heavy and RAW / NATURAL. Every instrument is mixed in perfectly, without one standing out and distracting the listener. Again, it appears that the goal here is the songs, not the ability or technicality of the playing. Even the voice sounds perfectly mixed, yet you can hear every word the singer is saying. The drums don't overpower the music, and the bass is punchy too. The drums do stand out in your ears, but I think it's due to the style he uses moreso than the sound itself. The band takes credit for the production, with someone else being given credit for the engineering. It seems as though the band is all too familiar with what they want to sound like, and went after that sound with a vengeance. The keyboards are crystal clear, as is the voice that accompanies a lot of the passages. I won't go into any complaints, as they would only serve as wishful thinking rather than flaws, which there aren't any of.

THE COMMENTS

What Hammerfall is to "raise your fist in the air, lined with leather metal", Centaur is to melodic metal. You won't get originality, although that is certainly arguable. You won't get a new breed of metal here, and you can pick some influences as you go, but those are minor technicalities and left to those who are so picky in their music that they look for these details, but for those who want to rock, and hear some great melodic metal, this is the place to look. Personally, the Dokken, Whitesnake days are some of my favorites of all time, so I have no problem getting into this band. They do NOT resemble those mentioned bands, but I mention them as a reference point to the genre. What those bands were to the 80's, Centaur brings it back in the 90's with their own brand of melodic metal. This is one disc I highly recommend for anyone who likes their metal warm and crunchy at the same time, and don't mind it laced with keyboards at every turn, this is certainly the ticket. Melodic metal is alive and kicking, as evidenced by Centaur - God Complex.


Tracklisting:
Sonnenkind (3:51) / Game Of Life (5:36) / Price Of Money (4:09) / Echo Of An Empty Shell (5:07) / The Seed (4:09) / Land Of Gold (4:34) / An Ode To A Memory (5:27) / Ultimate Answer (3:54) / To Be Or Not To Be (5:14) / Axiom (3:43) / Centaur Part I (4:40)

Musicians:
Stefan Kebel - vocals
Stefan Lohmann - guitar
Michael Boing - bass
Guido Gallus - drums
Christoph Weib - keyboards

Discography:
Power World (1994)
Perception (1995)
The God Complex (1998)
Live In Spain (2000)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin DE

Added: July 25th 1999
Reviewer: Larry "LarryD" Daglieri

Hits: 1126
Language: english

  

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