The Ordeal - Kings of Pain
Mausoleum Records
Classic Heavy Metal with ugly vocals
9 songs (45:36)
Release year: 2004
Mausoleum Records
Reviewed by Mike

The Ordeal, from Germany, formed back in 2002. Musically speaking, the band is influenced by the great classic metal bands of yesteryear: Accept, Scorpions, Judas Priest, and Dio, while capturing the melodic quality of countrymen Mob Rules. As you can see from my score, this CD won't be spinning in my stereo for any period of time longer than it takes me to write this review. Albums that I quote with a low score are normally easily forgotten as I move on to something more pleasing to my ears without hesitation. However, this album leaves me quite frustrated with what could have been. You see, the music is quite good, but everything is ruined by the absolutely horrendous vocals, and that's putting it nicely.

Let me start by discussing the positive characteristics that The Ordeal have working in their favor. The guitar work is something will please fans of traditional metal, where flamboyant guitar work is very much at the forefront of the sound. You'll hear powerful riffs that stand up to the heavyweights of classic metal that I mentioned above. For example, Face The Storm sounds features some guitar work eerily reminiscent of Dio's Stand Up And Shout. Throughout the album the virtuoso guitar solos were certainly one of the main highlights of the album. I would say that this guitarist has listened to some Yngwie, Impellitteri, and perhaps even some Axel Rudi Pell in his time. Despite his talent, he doesn't let his solos overshadow the songs; he shreds and does so with style. Old school 80's metal energy and enthusiasm permeates into each and every song. The songs are constructed in such a way that the melodies build off the strong rhythms and thunderous bass lines. Hence, the songs are catchy, yet powerful and authoritative at the same time. I should also comment on the excellent drum work. This guy is very interesting and energetic, able to stay away from predictable and repetitive beats throughout the entire album. This rounds out a very punishing rhythm section for the band. If this were an instrumental album, I am quite confident that the technical abilities of this band would make such an effort very entertaining. The music is quite infectious with its powerful melodies, and the rhythm section provides more than enough to get your neck moving.

After reading the above paragraph, you might think you've stumbled upon a great album that is helping to keep the torch of traditional heavy metal burning strong. Well, those hopes are quickly dashed when vocalist Oliver Oppermann opens his mouth. This has to be one of the top three worst metal vocalists I've ever heard. If you can imagine Gerrit P. Mutz (Sacred Steel) trying to sing rap metal, then you have a great idea of what Mr. Oppermann sounds like. Yes folks, the outstanding musical showmanship that I described above has been bastardized by this painful and sickening sort of falsetto / rap metal vocal performance. The majority of the album features this Beastie Boys meets Rage Against The Machine style of angry, shouted rapping of the lyrics. Just to piss us off extra, the guy adds some falsettos to his "arsenal" which should have been completely avoided. Instead of accentuating the wonderfully crafted riffs and melodies, this rappy vocal style clashes terribly with the great things going on instrumentally. There are some passages of a few songs where the rap vocals are briefly set aside. Actually, Mirrorland is completely "rap free," and is a very good song. Even when the rapping is given a rest, the guy still feels a need to swoop a screeching falsetto or a "kicked in the nuts," Gerrit P. Mutz style yelp out of his pocket. Of course, this sounds very much out of place for this music, fully ruining the listening experience for me. Simply put, the vocal performance on this album is laughable. I'm sure that The Ordeal does not want to sound like a nostalgia band that is stuck on 80's metal, and I applaud that. But, using such a lame vocal style is not the right way to carve a niche for your band. The songwriting and musicianship of this band speaks for itself and stands up strong. They should find a talented metal vocalist to match, and deliver a killer album that I know they could deliver.

For me, Kings of Pain is the quintessential example of a wonderfully played metal album absolutely ruined by shitty vocals. Only the most open minded and daring of listeners when it comes to vocals should give this album serious consideration. In fact, if you enjoy tradiational, quality guitar based heavy metal AND don't mind shouted, rappy vocals AND you don't mind lots of yelps and falsettos, this album is worth your time. As for me, if The Ordeal changes lead vocalists in the future, I will be more than just moderately interested. Until then, I'll have to pass.

Killing Songs :
Mike quoted 45 / 100
0 readers voted
You did not vote yet.
Vote now

There are no replies yet to this review
Be the first one to post a reply!