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HARDWARES

ALPHA TIGER

Beneath The Surface

(Century Media)

Reviewed by : Mark Gromen
Rating : 8.5

Spandex, high pitched vocals, animal prints, Japanese characters and youthful exuberance… Is it the 80s? No, just the second coming, in the form of this German outfit’s sophomore effort (albeit a Century Media debut). Sadly, it will only be available domestically as a digital download. Since there are no well-tattooed bald guys grunting, apparently the powers that be felt North Americans would have no interest. CDs and vinyl (if ever there releases that need to complete bypass MP3s, nostalgia seekers like ALPHA TIGER would be the ones) for those overseas, so check out your local import shops (or the CM online distro, who claims to have those formats). Beginning with a short acoustic intro of heartbeat and heavy breathing (seemingly more akin to their Man Or Machine debut), it’s just a false front on an otherwise upbeat disc. Rather than entirely focus on a retro-NWOBHM sound (speedy ‘From Outer Space’ and ‘The Alliance’), there’s more than a hint of Jon Arch in ALPHA TIGER singer Stephan “Heiko” Dietrich, although the music is nowhere as adventurous as early FATES WARNING. That said, check out ‘Along The Rising Sun’, a wildly time-changing ‘Eden Lies In Ruin’ and the acoustic tinged ‘Crescent Moon’ as the most glorious examples, although the vocal similarities are evident throughout. As with the unnamed intro which kicks off the album, ‘Waiting For A Sign’ begins as if an acoustic ballad, but quickly gives way to a more metallic mode, same for the subdued ‘Rain’. Employing piano, it’s the closest the Germans get to a full-blown ballad, while the title cut is a headbanging rifferama! Love the stripes of this Tiger.



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