Ivanhoe - Polarized

Year of Release: 1997
Label: WMMS
Catalog Number: WMMS 150
Format: CD
Total Time: 48:43:00

After many long nights of missing sleep to absorb some of the material I've gotten in over the last month, I've finally absorbed Ivanhoe's new one, Polarized; ... this was one of the discs that I have been really keeping vigil on its release, and in ways it satisfies the hunger I was hoping it was going to feed, but in other ways it disappoints just a bit, and I'll explain below......

If I had to summarize this for people who hate reading my long-winded, babbling reviews, if you know the type of change that Threshold just underwent, then that about sums up what Ivanhoe just went through..... in a nutshell, they've given up that symphonic sound they were known for, and went for a more heavier, crunchier sound..... and that, they did achieve...... here's what I think:


Still the same melodic, progressive, sometimes DT-styled metal they produced on the first two discs, except that this time, they have abandoned a lot of the keyboard-driven sound they are known for. The original guitarist has been replaced, all the other members from the last disc are still here. However, with the new guitarist comes a heavier, crunchier sound. Someone in the Ivanhoe camp, or the fact that this guitarist was extra heavy, made Ivanhoe think that they weren't heavy enough, so they decided to crank up the aggression quite a bit on this one.... Not such a bad thing, it's just that there is a quite a different feel to the sound now, and it does take a little getting used to if you are a fan as I am..... It's almost the same syndrome I went trough with Threshold, even though their new one is excellent, I still prefer the earlier, symphonic sound they had...... it really depends on where your taste lies at the moment..... if you wanted it heavier, you got it.... if you wanted more keyboard-driven material, forget it, it's gone..... Also different, on one of the songs, it almost sounds like a reggae, funky type of song and they used program drums..... again, different but not bad. It's obvious that Ivanhoe wants to branch out a little and establish their own style, and a band this talented can do this without pulling the plug on their fan base.......


Superb. Just what you would expect from an Ivanhoe disc..... everything is crystal clear, including the vocals. It is quite easy to see that this band has grown quite a bit, and they have a handle on what they want to do, because there are tons of different effects they are using here in the recording, such as echo, reverb, little bits of vocal processing, etc..... this band was certainly on a diversified mission when they write this disc......


It's great to listen to bands with superb singers. But it's also great to hear that same singer on each disc continue to deliver the goods, or in Andy Franck's case, sing even better.... I've always been a sucker for German singers. Their slight accent adds an certain air of sophistication to the music, and Andy Franck is one of those singers..... he has a bit of a German accent that makes his words sound so intelligent, and adds a beauty to his already awesome voice..... On the other hand, someone either told Andy to crank up the decibel level of his voice, or he just realized that he can reach even further with his voice than he could before.... only in an aggressive manner..... Andy is singing with a vengeance on this disc..... you can tell that he is really into the music, and rather than reach way up into the stratosphere as he did before, he seems more content to attack the words in a mid to high range tone.... but you can hear him attacking the words with a vengeance, he is definitely trying to get his point across, and he does this well.... he is one of the better singers in prog metal if you enjoy high pitched operatic singers..... He makes me forget that I miss the symphonic sound..... as customary, the last song is a beautiful ballad.... and Andy shows why he is one of the best....


All members are back.... except for the guitarist..... I am not sure what happened Chuck Schuler, the original guitarist, because he actually plays a song on the disc, and the band thanks him in the credits, so I am assuming it was a mutual break.... however, Ivanhoe spared no expense in finding a new, smoking guitarist..... his name is Achim Welsch, and he fits the band like a glove, although he brings with him a much heavier, crunchier sound and this should be pleasing to fans that wanted a heavier Ivanhoe.... the other members are the same, excellent compliment that they had before.... again, my only complaint, is that they left the keyboards behind a lot on this outing, but it's only my personal preference that prog metal is loaded with keys, but the rest of the disc is done up so well it's only a matter of getting used to the new sound..... I do feel that the keyboards were pat of their overall signature sound.


Overall, this is a very good disc, and I recommend this one to all Ivanhoe fans.... once again, don't look for a signature sound as before, but get ready to crank this one up. This music was meant to be cranked, because it is quite obvious they wanted to get heavier, and this is what they did. Most notably, Andy Franck's singing is really top notch, which is fine by me being one of the pickiest guys around when it comes to singers. Andy has always been one of my favorites, and this disc shows that as great as he is, he still had room to reach down and pull out some more stops. That in itself is a scary thought. How bands with this kind of talent manage to better themselves each time out is amazing to me...... There will be strong arguments when this gets around as to which one is better than which. My personal taste lies with Symbols of Time, because it uses the keyboards much more effectively. How you react to this disc is only a matter of adapting to the new style, or not liking the aggressive approach they take. It's a very good disc, any way you look at it.....

Lonelies (5:55) / Souls Of Fire (4:39) / Hollow (5:18) / Sunlight (4:42) / Wasted Time (4:27) / Glass On Skin (5:09) / Suppression Of A Difference (1:05) / Whipping The Flies (3:31) / When I'm Old (5:28) / Bonus tracks: Awaiting Judgement Day (4:04) / Prisoner To Fear (4:25)

Andy Franck - vocals
Giovanni Soulas - bass
Achim Welsch - guitars
Lars Hornig - drums
Markus Britsch - keyboards

Visions ... And Reality (1992)
Symbols Of Time (1994)
Polarized (1997)
Walk In Mindfields (2005)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin DE

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

Artist website: www.ivanhoe.de
Hits: 1157
Language: english


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