Empires Of Eden - Reborn In Fire (7Hard Records)

When Australian guitar virtuoso Stu Marshall (Paindivision, ex-Dungeon) unleashed the first Empires Of Eden album Songs Of War And Vengeance in 2009, it was an epic power metal / prog collaboration featuring some of the best metal talents that Australia has to offer. It seemed like it would be hard to top. Well, flash forward a year later, the newest chapter in the Empires Of Eden musical book has written in Reborn In Fire.

In comparison to the debut, Reborn In Fire is a completely different ball game. Everything has been knocked up a notch and it seems that there has been an international approach taken. There are some vocalists from all around the world who either represent the old guard with such vocalists as Steve Grimmett (Grim Reaper) and Zak Stevens (Savatage) or they fly the flag proudly in today's day and age such as Sean Peck (Cage) and Carlos Zema (ex-Outworld).

Opening the proceedings is the full-throttle, nitrous-fuelled Of Light And Shadows. This song doesn't quietly sneak in, it kicks down the door and pounds away at you like an MMA fighter. The song is very reminiscent of old-school power metal like Helloween and Gamma Ray and it flies with a speed and ferocity that those bands like to use proudly. Mike Vescera (ex Yngwie Malmsteen/Loudness) provides the vocals and wails away like a banshee in heat.

Not sticking to one style of metal, Reborn In Fire features a little bit of everything. There is thrash in the dynamic Total Devastation (Cage's Sean Peck delivers a mindblowing performance that brings to mind Tim "Ripper" Owens on steroids!) and Death Machine; symphonic metal in Reborn In Fire (featuring versatile Australian vocalist Chris Ninni and former Transcending Mortality frontman Mike Zoias); traditional power metal in Enter The Storm (featuring Crimsonfire's Louie Gorgievski). 

Beyond Daybreak features Grim Reaper's Steve Grimmett delivering his best performance in years, and the hard rock in Prognatus Ut Obscurum features the legendary frontman of Savatage - Zak Stevens. Guitarist Stu Marshall has really outdone himself this time with some fine fretwork that will destroy the dreams of many a guitarist and make them want to take up bass instead.

One of the biggest gripes I have with Reborn In Fire is with the kick drum sound. While the drum sound is definately an improvement over the debut, the kick drums are very prominent within the mix and tend to overpower everything else - especially the vocals in the quieter songs. Also, as great a vocalist Louie Gorgievski is, having him on three tracks is a bit much. It would have been nice to hear someone like Mike Zoias take on a song himself.

Sometimes follow-ups fall short in comparison to debut releases. Reborn In Fire is not one of these. It has taken Empires Of Eden to a whole new level with musical and vocal performances that will make your head bang and your jaw drop in amazement.

Empires Of Eden's Reborn In Fire is out now in Europe through 7Hard Records, and due out in Australia in August.