It’s been three years since the German Prog/Power Metal band MOB RULES put out a recording, i.e. first the P “Astral Hand” (see my review here) followed by the full-length “Radical Peace” (see my review here). Both were a big step forward for the band in terms of power, of more ballsy music, so to speak, while staying true to their melodic roots.
Anno 2012, since the 19th of October, album no. seven is out: “Cannibal Nation”. This was preceded by the single “Ice & Fire” (inspired by the story of the abducted Colombian politician Íngrid Betancourt). The album title is the same as its title track, which deals with “the cruel deeds of the African despot Jean-Bédel Bokassa”, as the press release states. To continue with some lyrical info that was also mentioned in the press text… “Scream For The Sun” is about the first ascent of Mount Everest. “Tele Box Fool” criticizes today’s dull TV/media culture. On a sidenote, keyboardist Sascha Onnen was replaced by Jan Christian Halfbrodt.
“Cannibal Nation” kicks off with “Close My Eyes”. A melodic intro with symphonic arrangements (by Michael Miro Rodenberg, known from his work with RHAPSODY, BRAINSTORM, AVANTASIA and more) where the song is being built. Midtempo Heavy Metal bursts in, with a focus on the guitars. Klaus remains the voice of MOB RULES and he does a good job here, again. The music itself is definitely worth hearing. The whole becomes more voluminous in the epic/hymnic bridge that leads into a pounding, symphonic chorus. Here it’s not about speed, but about feeling, atmosphere and alike. The obligatory guitar solo splits the song in two (or three, there are two solos, the second one more Bluesy), after which it’s back to business.
“Lost” also begins with a melodic intro, followed by verses that could have been copied, musically, from BLACK SABBATH or DIO. With the symphonic backing, this creates a nice result. The bridge is rather dark and the organ contributes to that, while the chorus is grand and hymnic with catchy melodies. The intro theme returns, links up with the solo, after which all falls silent, save for the guitar and the symphonic backing. When the music bursts out again, another solo is played. This piece reminded me of EDGUY’s epic song “Pharaoh”. No complaints from me, in other words. After another round of verse-bridge-chorus, all ends in an atmospheric, clean part. MOB RULES continues to deliver! “Tele Box Fool” is set in by the drums, followed by IRON MAIDEN-ish Heavy Metal: catchy melodies, powerful verses and overall.. it rocks! The organ in the back again helps to provide a good feeling. Melody is key, especially in the chorus.
And here comes the single “Ice And Fire”. It begins in a clean, soft way, sounding Folky and floating into the calm verses, which – again – have an IRON MAIDEN influence (in my opinion). Once the chorus is due, the music gains in power and symphonic backing. It’s a power ballad. Around halfway the Folky touch comes out again with pounding drums and bombastic orchestration. Things get a bit more vicious at this stage before returning to the chorus and ending of the song. All in all another good song, but somehow I found it a bit too long. Not that you can hear it, but that feeling can pop up. “Soldiers Of Fortune” brings back the power with a midtempo, straight-forward track. The verses are clean at first, then guitars and drums add their power. Symphonic backing remains a constant on this album. The pounding bridge leads to an emotional chorus. Like before the solos (guitar and keyboards) divide the song in two. And like before, the band has done a very good job.
“The Sirens” is a more straight-forward and simpler song. It starts with the guitar to transcend into galopping Heavy Metal, similar to ASTRAL DOORS (esp. with the organ) and Klaus singing a bit rougher, like Nils Patrik Johansson. Nice stuff here, I like it! Then comes the trip to Mount Everest with “Scream For The Sun (May 29th 1953)”. A short extract from the interview (see here – the interview is around 02:15) with Sir Edmund Hillary (who climbed the mountain with Tenzing Norgay) is used to introduce the song. A clean guitar piece sets in, together with soft vocals. Musical and vocal power come out in the bridge and chorus, which sounds somewhat dramatic and dark. Was that to show that this duo had a hard time conquering the mountain? The music itself is well done, a mix of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal with a Bluesy touch.
Before the ballad “Sunrise” – overall an ok song, but nothing special – puts an end to “Cannibal Nation”, it’s the title track itself that lets out the last supplies of power with faster paced melodic Metal. The song has a nice beat and drive. The organ helps in creating this feeling. Musically this is one of those songs that are good to get energized, to feel better. Lyrically is a different story, of course. But this is another highlight, like the majority of the tracks on this album.
Long story short: MOB RULES continues what they started with “Radical Peace” (2009), i.e. making their music more powerful, ballsier without giving up the melodic side that has been characteristic since ever. Is it better than the previous album? Both have their strengths, but somehow, yes, “Cannibal Nation” is a little higher on the list (in my humble opinion). Truth is that they created another masterpiece that will do well on stage and open more doors. Heavily recommended!
- Close My Eyes
- Tele Box Fool
- Ice And Fire
- Soldiers Of Fortune
- The Sirens
- Scream For The Sun (May 29th 1953)
- Cannibal Nation
Klaus Dirks – vocals
Matthias Mineur – guitars
Sven Lüdke – guitars
Jan Christian Halfbrodt – keyboards
Markus Brinkmann – bass
Nikolas Fritz – drums