Mob Rules

Radical Peace

Written by: GR on 20/12/2009 00:20:18

Mob Rules are a power/melodic metal band signed to AFM records. Can you guess where they're from? That's right; Germany! Formed in 1994 and releasing their first album in 1999, "Radical Peace" is record number six (excluding a live album) and their first for the aforementioned label. Like with many of the lesser-known power metal bands, Mob Rules are an entity I've had brief dealings with - in this case I saw a small part of their performance at Bloodstock 2008 - but have never been interested enough to hunt down an album. Therefore I can't inform you how this latest release chalks up against their back catalogue, but I get the feeling that given the amount of releases from similarly styled bands we see each year, most of you won't be too worried on this front.

Just from the mention of the genre Mob Rules ploughs there will be those who know this album is not for them, but those of you that like a bit of power metal will hopefully still be reading and wondering if "Radical Peace" is worthy of further investigation. On the whole I'd say it is - but I wouldn't put it too near the top of your priorities list. The band's sound leans more heavily on what is generally just termed melodic metal rather than the frenetic power metal practised by some of their countrymen (Gamma Ray etc.) and from a technical point of view is hard to criticise - the production is sharp and powerful and the playing skills faultless, as would be expected. This much is delivered by the vast majority of the countless other Euro-metal bands that peddle generic material and clichéd ideas, and whilst Mob Rules are doing nothing original here, they have managed to write a set of songs strong enough to prevent immediate dismissal.

Nice use of orchestral elements and choral vocals along with a chunky riff and catchy melody make album opener "Children Of The Flames" a convincing start, achieving an epic and symphonic sound that continues through the album. On the next few tracks the quality is maintained and some variety injected with the energetic "Trial By Fire" contrasted by the almost-balladic but massive sounding "Warchild". Often the songs bring to mind the latest Avantasia album and other bands of that ilk, with sweeping and bombastic passages. Latter-era Iron Maiden and progressive metal influences can be heard in places, within a mix that lacks distinctiveness (I certainly wouldn't recognise the band by their sound alone) but is enjoyable all the same. The centrepiece of the album comes in the form of 18 minute epic "The Oswald File", starting with a clip from John F. Kennedy's famed "Ich bin ein Berliner" Cold War speech. This track is apparently made up of six parts, but is for all intents and purposes a single song based around JFK and his assassination. Other reviews have praised this song to the skies but I don't find it memorable enough throughout it's length to make a truly lasting impression - although the use of period sound clips does create an effective atmosphere at times and certain sections are excellent. To their credit, given the ambitious nature of this track, Mob Rules do a decent job here where other bands may have been pushing their creative capabilities a bit too far.

Whilst I wouldn't want to bemoan a band's artistic vision - especially in light of "The Oswald File" - some of the other tracks do come across as being unnecessarily lengthy, lacking the spark to keep them interesting all the way to conclusion. Had the band shaved a minute or two from the likes of "Children Of The Flames" and closer "The Glance Of Fame", they would have avoided diluting their initial punchy impact and the energy would have been kept a bit higher. With what is, at the end of the day, a generic sound, over-staying their welcome on some of these songs doesn't help in the 'same old boring power metal' argument that many would probably level.

This album is above that position of complete averageness dealt out by a lot of similar bands (just ask PP, he's had to review enough of them) though, and whilst it isn't going to change the standing of Mob Rules in the metal world there's enough here for existing fans and those with a liking for the genre to enjoy. I don't suspect many will be spinning this particularly regularly, but it's strong enough to warrant a 'good' rating and maybe even a bit extra for those melodically inclined.


Download: Trial By Fire, Warchild, The Oswald File
For the fans of: Avantasia, Axxis, Edguy
Listen: Myspace

Release date 13.11.2009
AFM Records

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