Imperial Rage - FIre In The Sky

Year of Release: 1998
Label: Pulse Records
Catalog Number: PUL10016
Format: CD
Total Time: 49:00:00

Hailing from Chicago, Illinois (I believe) is Imperial Rage; yet another American metal hopeful in a growing line of American bands that seem to be bent on putting the good old USA on the metal map once again. With the release of their 49:00 disc, Fire In The Sky, the band sounds like a more mainstream version of Kamelot only played at the speed of light. The band mixes an 80's style metal sound with some neo-classical undertones and throws in a Kamelot style "royal" sound to round out the musical spectrum. The band is driven by a single guitar sound, complemented by some neo-classical styled keyboards. Armed with a budding guitar hero, complementing keyboards, plenty of double bass barrage, the band draws influences from several styles of music and molds them into the Imperial Rage sound. It doesn't seem that many American bands play this style of music anymore, or at least attempt to, but Imperial Rage doesn't sound afraid to try to take something that has been done and inject it with their own brand of metal. The music won't break any new ground, but it will hold your interest, especially if you like the neo-classical sound, and enjoy guitar driven music played at higher than normal speeds.


Hawk / Guitars, bass, keyboards, backing vocals
Dan Milka / Vocals
Tim Kepp / Backing vocals
Brad Robbins / Keyboards
Ed Bethishou / Keyboards
Jeff Kmiec / Drums

The band also utilizes a choir, flute, cello, violin, and some female backing vocals on a couple of songs. It's not hard to figure out that the band relies heavily on the guitar driven sound of Hawk - who has a love for the neo-classical sound and takes into that genre of music most of the way with his playing style. The band itself is not totally based on that neo-classical sound however, and it's quite easy to hear their 80's metal band influences at times even though the guitarist keeps his neo style alive throughout most of the disc. I will have to admit that he can overdo it a bit, and track 7, called "Frolic In The Wind," is just a guitar solo that makes me think that the band didn't have any more music to offer and Hawk offered to play a guitar solo to show off his talents. Track 10 also features Hawk in a short acoustic intro, which again dives head first into a guitar solo although this time with some keyboards thrown in to liven this one up. In a live setting, this might go over well, but even for the most guitar driven fans, this will not sit well on a studio disc. The bass sound is a bit shy on the disc, and I really can't get a good feel for what he is actually doing, but it is played by the guitarist as well, so you know you're going to get about the same style and sound as he does on the guitar parts. The keyboarded tracks are offered by three musicians, including most done by the guitarist himself, who seems to be very adept at this instrument as well. I haven't followed the keyboard tracks too closely, but I'm willing to bet that the guitarist tried very hard to see if he can keep up with his guitar playing on the keyboards as some of the solos sound very similar. Its this keyboarded sound that actually reminds me of Kamelot at times, giving the impression of the music being played in a King's castle. Obviously, the guitarist of this band is multi-talented and plays most of the instruments, wrote all of the music and lyrics, and produced the disc as well.


Dan Milka has a strong "metal" voice - and his roots again sound like they are firmly planted in the 80's style of metal singing. Lots of high pitched notes, some stratospheric notes, and some aggressive 80's style yelling make me think of a combination of many 80's metal bands, particularly some high pitched Christian metal band singers that have that very high, sometimes ear piercing voice. Unfortunately, his high range is marred by the inability to reach these notes without giving way to his limitations, and it's not hard to hear the strain in his tone as he reaches way too high at times and seems to lose his voice in the process. Overall, most metal heads will dig his voice, especially if youre into that 80's metal style of singing.


While not the greatest recording, it's not a bad sound at all. I'm not sure what Pulse Records is, or what part they played in the financial aspect of the recording, but it was engineered and mixed by people outside the band. Obviously, the guitar recording is way up front in the mix, although they could have used some more effects on the instrument along the way. Those dry guitar solo tracks could have been beefed up a bit to hold more interest, rather than have Hawk just sit there au naturel and play away for 5-7 minutes. It's just a very dry and plain guitar sound throughout the disc, and there is plenty of room for improvement in this area. The bass is felt, but for some reason not heard as much as it could be. It seems to get lost in the mix but at least it's heavy. The drums could be upped a bit as well, and strangely take a back seat to the guitar sound. (read - you better LOVE guitars). They also need a bit more poundage and thump to really get this bands point across. The keyboards are laid out nicely though - not too high or low in the mix, just enough to be heard clearly and to complement the guitar. No doubt that the band suffered from financial woe when attempting to put this down on disc, and that is a common problem these days with bands just trying to get their craft down on the silver platter.


First - be prepared for an overabundance of guitar work. While the band seems to know what they want to do, there seems to be an obvious overindulgence in guitar soloing, and lots of emphasis is put on this aspect of the music. Those two guitar solo tracks definitely point that out, but along the way you won't find a single spot on the disc in which the guitars aren't blasting away at your ears trying hard to keep your attention away from everything else going on. In defense of the guitar, it's a guitar driven sound so if you are into guitar sounds, this is a good place to listen. Imperial Rage seem to know where they want to go with their sound and playing, and its obvious that they could write a killer disc given the chance to get some sound and put more emphasis on the songwriting aspect of the music rather than the talents of one man. Overall, this is a very good listen, and true metal heads looking to raise their fist in the air or whip out that dusty old air guitar would do well here. Chalk up another band on the American front that is bent on bringing back that true metal sound to the USA........

The Beginning Of The End / Introspection / Fire In The Sky / Can't Get Away / Journey's End / Never Wanna Stay / Frolic In The Wind / King's Plight / Invention #4 / Moza Viva / Euphoria / Miles Away / Motet

Orest 'Hawk' Dziatjk - guitars, bass, keyboards, and backing vocals
Dan Milka - vocals
Tim Kepp - backing vocals
Brad Robbins - keyboards (5, 6, 8)
Ed Bethishou - keyboards (12)
Jeff Kmiec - drums


John Ling - violins (6)
Ellen Fisher - cello (6)
Jennifer Bartel - flute (10)
Laura Amend - vocals (13), choir (6) Joy Richards, Barbara Staffen - choir (6)

Fire In The Sky (1998)

Genre: Melodic Metal

Origin US

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

Artist website:
Hits: 1292
Language: english


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