Walk the Earth
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Doesn't this look rather like the cover for The Fourth Legacy?
It's been absolutely ages since I actually listened to any new music. Recently I've been more involved in activities that don't lend themselves to a musical backdrop - namely transferring my songs to GP5s and failing to play along with them on the guitar. Combined with that, my music-buying tactic used to consist of wandering into music stores as I passed them and picking up anything I didn't have that I was interested in - but that's not really an option here because my entire existence is in the flat, in the office and on an underground line in between (not even mentioning the fact that European metal is even more difficult to find in America than it is in Britain). But I think it was that put an end to that by giving me Silent Force's Walk the Earth for Christmas.

When I've talked about albums recently I've gone through them track-by-track, but I know that this is a rather long-winded way to do it, and this type of review was discouraged by Metal Archives (or Encyclopaedia Metallum if you want to be quite agonizingly pompous), deeming them 'unprofessional'. An album is definitely a complete experience in itself - just working out the arrangement of songs is a difficult process, involving decisions like which moods, themes and speeds of songs go together or should be separated, and even length comes into the equation as well when you decide where to put your ten-minuters (the fourth and last tracks being my personal choice most of the time) - but in the end you're going to enjoy or dislike each individual song on its own merit. However, I've realized that at least one good reason for not going down to such an involved level is that invariably, as soon as you submit a review saying which songs you like and dislike, your opinion of all of them will completely change.

But I don't really have any standout songs at the moment, because in general, I have to admit that Silent Force's latest effort seems a little... flat, so far. There are a couple of different points that I find myself wanting to hear again, but I haven't yet identified anything truly amazing. In comparison, their last album Worlds Apart had some blindingly great songs and some absolute duffers - Ride the Storm was epic, Hold On plodded, No One Lives Forever was all right with a disappointing chorus, Heroes had so much power and energy behind it that it made you want to go and bomb the pants off Afghanistan even if you were normally relatively sane, and so on.

American power metal vocalists tend to be 'smoother' in sound than the Europeans, who have a harder, scratchier edge to their singing styles. DC Cooper, who has not yet emerged from the 80s, has as good a voice as ever and has even learned how to pronounce more than just the vowels. However, I'm honestly not sure if this is a good thing. I don't know if it's just being able to hear the lyrics better and therefore being unable to ignore them, but I think they've taken a definite downward turn in quality from the previous album - Worlds Apart had lyrics that made no sense, but Walk the Earth has lyrics that make no sense but are still recognizable as not very good.

If I was going to pick out standout moments, I'd say that Man and Machine has a good pre-chorus before duffing up the real one, DC's voice (does this man have a real name or just two initials?) on Walk the Earth itself is amazing, The King of Fools and Running Through the Fire are fast-paced and very enjoyable, but that's about it. In From the Dark is also good until the seemingly random chord changes near the end. However, according to the rules I laid out above, it's bound to become one of my favourite albums ever as soon as I hit this Submit button.