Germany’s hyper talented speed metal band Scanner set a standard with the critically acclaimed debut album Hypertrace back in 1988 by combining awesome skill with science fiction concept. Hypertrace is still considered one of the better albums from 80s conceptual speed and power metal by fans all over the world. The band failed to release albums that were up to par with Hypertrace in the 90s, and stopped making albums after 2002.
The Judgement marks the band’s return, and it is a fresh restart for one of the better bands out of the easily overlooked speed metal genre. Starting with the heavy face ripper “F.T.B.” (which means Fuck The Bastards) the band has easily recaptured the old essence of the band, and clearly holds nothing back in this awesome sing along shredder.
There are great riffs on the second track “Nevermore,” and it is also a great track to head bang to even while sitting at the computer. The solo around four minutes in shows that AJ Julius still has incredible energy.
“Warlord” is a fun track that will definitely get a circle pit going. Unfortunately the lyrics aren’t very clear. The production is kind of underwhelming. Again Julius shreds out a great solo. After all these years he still cranks out incredibly smooth and far out numbers. This track is definitely a nod to earlier days of heavy metal. It kind of has a “Warp 7” feel to it for all the old Scanner fans who know what I am talking about.
Efthiomas Ioannidas of Greece makes his debut on this album, and definitely shows up his predecessors with a great vocal range. He belts out the opener to “Eutopia” and carries this song quite nicely with his powerful voice. Again it is unfortunate that the mixing did not give the attention to his range that he deserves. As if I need to tell you the solo on this one is cool. In fact just expect outstanding solos throughout this entire album if old school classic face melting is what you’re into. Julius is definitely in the top ten in the ranks of the speed metal virtuosos. As well the riff and the chorus is outstanding, and the main lick with Ioannidas wailing vocals along with it really made my arm hairs stand up.
“The Judgement” is an ominous prophetic vision of what this world probably should look like in the not too distant future. At least that was my take on the lyrics of the song. It holds its weight with the same incredible skill on the other songs, and lends a foreboding sign of things to come or as they are becoming now.
The remainder of the album is a very straight forward and fun experience. “Pirates” is a great tune which obviously goes toward the pirate-metal genre. It’s something I think Scanner can do really well even though their sci-fi schtick is very different from pirate metal. “Known Better” and “The Race” have two of the best solos on the album, and “The Race” is one heck of a mosher. I find myself wanting to toss off my headphones and air guitar to this one.
“The Legionary” is the final track, and a slower deviation from the rest of the tracks. It could have been a better ending to the album if the song did not end so abruptly, but I would still say the song gets credit for having the same quality of riffs you’d hear in the rest of the album.
Overall, I’d say the album left me wanting more, and definitely should have had some more ballads or maybe an acoustic number on it.
I was certainly satisfied with The Judgement as a Scanner fan and metal fan. Hypertrace is still the definitive Scanner album, but I believe The Judgement will carry the torch for Scanner. It proves that they’re still a band to be reckoned with, and AJ has incredible talent with a mind for finding similarly talented artists to create music with. (Nick P)