Power Quest - Blood Alliance
Marquee / Avalon (In Japan), Napalm Records (Everywhere else)
Melodic Power Metal
11 songs (1:03:58)
Release year: 2011
Power Quest
Reviewed by Kyle
Album of the month

It took me no less than five listens to figure out what sets Blood Alliance, Power Quest’s fifth album, apart from its previous four. Aside from the fact that all members except for keyboardist / PQ founder Steve Williams had been replaced since the band’s previous effort Master of Illusion (including a vocalist whose style differs drastically from the original singer), something is different. Hard to identify, but different all the same. When compared in back-to-back listens to one of the band’s previous albums, however, the difference is strikingly clear: Blood Alliance’s production is FAR more powerful than on past efforts. Gone are the tinny drums and wimpy guitar tone of the past and in its place is a thunderous drum kit and a classic heavy metal guitar sound. This is a new era of Power Quest, one that is far more hard-hitting than before (if a band with a name like Power Quest could even be described as such).

But what of the new talent on board? On drums is Rick Smith, a much more precise and diverse drummer than past member Francesco Tresca. On bass is Paul Finnie while Andy Midgley and Gavin Owen pick up guitar duty; both are worthy replacements to Andrea Martongelli, one of my favorite modern power metal guitarists. Finally, replacing falsetto-happy vocalist Alessio Garavello is veteran power metal singer Chity Somapala. Somapala’s singing style is most aptly described when compared to Kiuas Meine; his tone is much like Meine’s, though his range and vibrato leave something to be desired. Some of the heavier moments on the album really allow Sompala to make use of his vocal style; a surprisingly powerful scream he belts out on Crunching the Numbers is old school to the bone and never fails in getting my adrenaline flowing. He may not fit PQ’s style as well as Alessio Garavello, but he is a more than competent vocalist that is well suited for Blood Alliance's heavier sound.

When it comes to the actual music, Blood Alliance triumphs. Listeners will find double-bass heavy melodic power metal, glam rock influenced pseudo-ballads, and mid-paced chuggers sharing equal space on the album, with a few surprises riddled along the way. Crunching the Numbers, for example, goes through no less than four stylistic changes before it reaches its end; it’s a blast to listen to, and undoubtedly the most unique song the band has ever done. All the same, this is still Power Quest; from the instrumental intro Battle Stations (which is actually REALLY good) which showcases classic PQ chord progressions to the various keyboard-soaked numbers, there’s no shortage of evidence that the band has not lost its true colors, massive line-up changes be damned! And to the people like me who believe Power Quest is best at their fastest, rest easy; Rising Anew, Glorious, and Survive are easily the fastest songs the band has ever recorded.

Power Quest’s melodies have also improved greatly; while some may mourn the departure of ultra-flowery melodies heard in songs like Far Away and Sacred Land, I appreciate the choice to craft hooks that are plenty triumphant yet far less fruity. Chity’s performance on the chorus of Only in My Dreams and the keyboard intro to Survive are only two examples of the countless melodies that you won’t be able to get out of your head after listening to Blood Alliance. Fans should be happy to hear that there are actual RIFFS on the album as well; gone are the DragonForce-style one-note charges, and in their place are a ton of damn good heavy metal riffs.

Power Quest has done SO much right with Blood Alliance, and to be honest, my only real gripe with the album (other than Chity’s occasionally weak vocals) comes from the way the songs are ordered. All the fast songs are placed in the first half while the second half is loaded with mid-paced tracks, which makes Blood Alliance feel oddly unbalanced. Thankfully, this is a gripe that fans can fix themselves with a simple re-ordering of tracks in their mp3 library. In the end, Blood Alliance is a completely successful reinvention of one of my favorite power metal bands, and I’d be hard pressed to disagree with anyone saying that it’s Power Quest’s best album to date. It may take a few listens to let the band’s new sound soak in, but once it does you’ll find it to be one helluva power metal release. I doubt I’ll hear a better power metal album this year.

P.S. If you can afford the Japanese import of Blood Alliance, Time to Burn is an awesome Japan-only bonus track! (The album length and number of tracks at the top of the page includes the bonus track)

Pros: The melodies! The riffs! The musicianship! It all rocks!

Cons: Occasionally weak vocals; weird song order

Killing Songs :
Rising Anew, Glorious, Survive, Crunching the Numbers, Only in My Dreams, Time to Burn
Kyle quoted 91 / 100
Other albums by Power Quest that we have reviewed:
Power Quest - Master Of Illusion reviewed by Marty and quoted 80 / 100
Power Quest - Magic Never Dies reviewed by Marty and quoted 80 / 100
Power Quest - Neverworld reviewed by Marty and quoted 90 / 100
Power Quest - Wings Of Forever reviewed by Marty and quoted 74 / 100
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