The German power metal group Custard has reached one more milestone in their career by getting their 4th full-length album out, titled FORCES REMAIN. Having not heard of any of their other releases (shame on me), I think I should after giving some intense and serious listening to the band´s latest effort (12 songs in some 55 minutes; quite a ride indeed!). This is actually a pretty good power metal release with lots of variety in their song structures even if the first song “The Dragonslayer” almost made me throw the disc away after hearing the first couple of minutes of the song. I was just thinking: “No more über-fast tempo Euro-flower power metal for me - ever again!”. Now afterwards I´m kinda thankful I continued listening…
“Creature”, the second song off FORCES REMAIN, isn´t really that much of a power metal song at all, but more like a modern sounding heavy metal song with a very stick-in-your-mind chorus, great melodies, some excellent solo work and so on. And what's best is that the band´s vocalist Olli sounds a lot like Tobias Sammett (Edguy, Avantasia), but also a bit of Rob Halford when reaching the upper register vocally. He´s definitely a gifted vocalist with a good vocal range. “Heaven Strikes” comes up next, which is a heavy and aggressive power/heavy metal song, and surely grabs the listener´s attention easily. Nevertheless, “Heaven Strikes” is a killer song, which cannot be said about the next track “Poke the Flames”, as it just drags a bit too much despite some fabulous solo work in it. “Enter the World” is sort of prelude for “Warcraft”, which seems to plagiarize some Helloween song(s) quite drastically, with some Maiden-tinged guitar parts thrown in. Again, the band has paid a lot of attention to make the chorus part as catchy and mind-licking as possible, which is where they obviously are very good at.
The album´s most lengthy song, “Kind of Peace" (clocking in at 7:13 minute mark), is a sort of power metal ballad song, basically going nowhere and having a tendency to be a bit tedious after all. Not bad, but not that good either. “Angel of Sorrow”, on the other hand, has a very patriotic sounding beginning, and this is actually the song in which Olli comes closest to Mr. Halford´s vocalism. Otherwise, this certain epic and pompous atmosphere that this particular song reeks of is jaw-dropping in my opinion.
“Final Stand” is another good song off the album, in which references to the Halford style of vocalism come across as somewhat obvious, but otherwise it is a well-crafted, mid-paced song with all those necessary elements to win its listener´s interest. “For the Cross” is again a fast-paced, early Iced Earth-tinged song, and has a tiny patriotic feel in it, too. Custard really seems to know how to write catchy choruses, which is good for them because the chorus parts are an integral part of successfully made songs in general.
The last real song on FORCES REMAIN, titled “God of Storm”, is a tour de force from the Custard camp, with those familiar Maiden-ish guitar parts piercing through the song here and there. The title track is a short outro - performed with only piano and vocals, in which Olli displays a softer side of his vocal range.
There are some minor ´so-so´ things in the songs on this album that they could pay more attention to in the future in order to make their songs more coherent, but bear in mind the empire of Rome wasn´t built in a day either. FORCES REMAIN is, however, an album that will surely appeal to many, especially fans of Helloween, Edguy, Priest and the like.
3,5 of 5