Review by Alexander Meyer, MY REVELATIONS Webzine (Germany, March 2013)
English Translation by the Author:
What to expect when former musicians of US-Metal cult bands like Tension and Omega Point come together to make the shit hit the fan once again? Well, apparently a metalhead`s wet dreams come true. With this EP ALLOY 20 remind me big time of the legendary mini album by Queensryche. Of course, the opener "Demon Of Destruction" is not really a match to the perhaps best metal song of all times “Queen Of The Reich”, but the following “Silent Calls” describes an unprecedented arc of suspense from its balladic beginning (just like “The Lady Wore Black”) to its eruptive guitar solo in the end. After that “Veil Of Darkness” is a bit faster and straighter again, before the second semi-ballad “More To Give” brings tears to your eyes.
This is US-Powermetal at its best! And even if the above mentioned “Queen Of The Reich”-EP will forever be without a match, ALLOY 20 can still go even with EPs by Cities ("Annihilation Absolute"), Lethal ("Your Favorite God") or Leviathan, which is sensational enough. In times in which Queensryche split up in a disgusting mudslinging and in which Geoff Tate hasn`t only lost parts of his voice but also most of his songwriting skills, Jeff Grove sort of revives the young Geoff Tate with his thrilling vocals, even if he isn`t a youngster himself anymore. Hence he had long, blonde, curly hair back in the beginning of the nineties when he recorded the cult demo “Infinite Rhyme” with Omega Point, whilst he is now bald and wears a goatie.
If ALLOY 20 manage to create a longplayer of the same quality but with an acceptable cover without a word art banner next time, I will gladly give them an A plus. For the time being it`s “just” an A minus.
Interview by Andreas Schiffmann, Musikreviews.de (Germany 1/4/13)
- First off, tell me how you guys found each other, as each of you more or less has a reputation but still rather different background.
Jeff, Billy and John have known each other for over 20 years. We all played in Maryland local bands back in the 1980s-early 1990s. Actually, before Jeff formed Omega Point, he and John were in a band together that rehearsed right down the street from where Billy’s band, Tension/Deuce, used to practice. Michael’s band, Snydly Crunch, played shows with Tension, so Michael and Billy knew each other from the past as well. We had lost touch with each other for a while, until 2010 when Jeff and Billy formed Alloy 20. They asked John to play bass, and then Sean joined after being recommended by neoclassical guitar virtuoso, Matthew Mills. A few months later, Michael joined the band and that finalized the lineup.
- How could you get Maor Appelbaum, a busy man, to work with you?
Maor had sent a message to Metalgrind Productions, which released Tension’s “Epitaph” CD, expressing interest in working together. Metalgrind forwarded the message to Billy and Michael contacted him.
- "Demon Of Destruction" is obviously a war song? What do you refer to concretely here? Does it refer to your state as musicians as well, always struggling?
“Demon of Destruction” is a war song which was heavily influenced by the concepts of good vs. evil, science fiction films, and the constant struggle for survival. Through that, a loose story was developed which was the foundation for this song.
- The protagonist of "Silent Calls" is obviously troubled; who is the "he" the person wants to see?
The story behind “Silent Calls” is about a guy who has a nightmare about the end of the world. “He” is open to interpretation by the listener. Even within the band, there are different interpretations of who “he” is.
- Does "Veil Of Darkness" continue the story of the former song?
No. “Veil of Darkness” is really its own story about personal struggle within oneself.
- In "More To Give", I get the impression that you explicitly call to God; is this the general tenor of the songs maybe?
“More to Give” is based on a true story regarding a friend of the band whose child was diagnosed with cancer. The song follows the father’s personal struggle as he questions himself, those around him, his religious beliefs, and the world in general.
- What do you hope to achieve with Alloy 20?
Solid music, good musicianship, and the anticipation of thought as people listen to the music. It is our hope to write songs that are open to interpretation by the listener and to tour the globe, possibly with larger acts, and bring our music to fans worldwide. We really like how Iron Maiden toured South America in a new way to reach fans that do not see metal acts enough, so that would be a worthy goal for Alloy 20.
- How does the near future for the band look like? Do you often play live, and are there record labels interested in you - or would you even want to stay independent?
We are not focusing on live shows at the moment because we are deep in production on Part II which will be released in early 2013. We are open to discuss options with record and production companies. If the right deals present themselves, we would like to team with companies to bring our live show to the fans. If not, we are perfectly happy to continue independently.
Review by Holger Andrae, www.Powermetal.de (Germany 12/4/2012)
The voice of OMEGA POINT is back and delivers a classic!
For starters: This EP presents the best newcomer of 2012. Already a sufficient description, right? In a good world, the readers of this review would surf the band’s website and after a few seconds of musical enjoyment, press the order button. Alternatively, there are of course the well-known German sales channels.
For the unsure, I will pin a few dry facts to the monitor. The quintet from Baltimore has some old warriors in their ranks, including Billy Giddings, the drummer for legendary DEUCE / TENSION and Jeff Grove, Golden Voice, who caused an absolute frenzy some 20 years ago with the OMEGA POINT demo "Infinite Rhyme". And this is what he continues to do with his bell-clear siren voice, reminiscent often blessed to Geoff Tate. He has forgotten nothing, absolutely nothing.
With this vocal performance, he immediately climbs to the top position of this year's singing contests. Because a great voice alone does not bring superb music, I will not deprive you of what ALLOY 20 have conjured up as an instrumental backing for this miraculous voice. We hear fantastic US-Metal-Grenades in a class that have provided for me at the first listen complete enthusiasm. Regardless of the song, whether the powerfully captivating and carefully chosen opening number “Demon of Destruction” or the ballad-introduced galloping bullet “More to Give”, the adrenaline keeps flowing. The band has just the right combination of interesting song structures and incredible melodies. On “More to Give” alone, one can write a short essay. I believe during the solo passage, you can very briefly hear WATCHTOWER in the melody, while the totally great chorus reminiscent of the aforementioned band from Seattle is not a bad comparison.
As a special treat, I must highlight the priceless song “Silent Calls”. The beginning is sung with such feeling that brings back memories of the divine Midnight, “Lost Reflection” and so on. But this number is not a ballad. Quickly, there is powerful riffing and a driving rhythm, and quickly fists are clenched and heads stretched high into the sky. This song is already a classic. You cannot do much better than this kind of music. All thumbs up.
Review by Andreas Schiffmann, Musikreviews.de (Germany 12/5/2012)
These long-standing US-Metalheads are currently much talked about, but since the old school of steel from across the Atlantic has lost much of its quality in recent years, we may ask if Alloy 20, the new band of Jeff Grove from Omega Point, Tension's Billy Giddings and John Taylor from Pentameron alongside Snydly Crunch's Michael Ricketts [with newcomer Sean Taylor Brown] is the real deal or just found good through the eyes of nostalgia.
First things first: The sound provided by mixing wizard Maor Appelbaum, in particular the drums, could come across a tad warmer, but in terms of compositions, these musicians are way above par. Their brand of Power Metal is of the straight kind, but still playful enough, and trumps up with rather high vocals, thus reminding of bands like Breaker - to which especially the opening tune with its overt call for perseverance harks back: nameless in the mainstream, revered by underground specialists. The calmer "Silent Calls" goes into a positively eerie Queensryche-direction, in particular because of Grove's agreeable voice. Staccato-riffs add to the song's heaviness, yet don't trivialize it, also thanks to its vibrant guitar melodies. The chorus is less obious than in "Demon Of Destruction", and the solos are balm for your ears: songs within a song as it was meant to be.
In "Veil Of Darkness", lone fighter Matt Mills appears as guitar-slinging guest. This tune can easily be considered as the group's most progressive so far, but neither loses its flow nor mighty hookline - despite considerable rhythmic variation and slightly neo-classical solo-spots. The closing "More To Give" starts off as a ballad with really touching vocals before almost predictably developing into a moody epic whose only downside are the bawling choirs ... yet still: These little quirks are just what we have come to love about EPs and albums stemming from the actual underground of Metal (which doesn't use the term as a badge of honor to make up for musical insuffiency).
CONCLUSION: Alloy 20 bring back virtues which we actually thought have long ceased to exist: craftsmanship instead of gaudy show-off, songwriting in absolute focus and obviously internalized genre history. Although this EP is not the greatest, best, ultimate Metal (as some claim it is), it is one of those records few and far between and a must for every fan of traditional values. This critic is joyously reminded of Nightcrawler's "Revelation Genocide", which was and still is a similar tower of strength.
"Buy it now!"
Review by Martin Brandt, Streetclip.tv / STRIKE! The Magazine (Germany 11/25/12)
(English Translation by author, Martin Brandt)
In 2012 – USA import / Self-Released – Style: Progressive Power Metal
ALLOY 20 is a name that is yet mostly unknown amongst metal fans these days, but those of our readers who know their U.S. metal history will recognize some familiar names in the line up of the band. The singing for ALLOY 20 is provided by former OMEGA POINT vocalist Jeff Grove, who is known to sound similar to old Geoff Tate. (In fact, I believe Mr. Tate would love to be able to sing like Jeff did on "Part I: Lost In The Veil Of Darkness" - if he still could do it, his bandmates in QUEENSRYCHE would probably not have felt the need to replace him with a younger frontman). Guitarist Michael Ricketts is known from his past in SNYDLY CRUNCH and the most well-known member of ALLOY 20 is definitely drummer Billy Giddings from DEUCE/TENSION fame. Luckily, ALLOY 20 doesn't really need name dropping at all to promote their band, because the three seasoned veterans, with help of the new guys Sean Taylor Brown (g) and John Taylor (b), have released an EP that should please all fans of high class U.S. metal. The opening track "Demon Of Destruction" scores with a great groove and catchy chorus. It reminds me of IRON MAIDEN and (of course) QUEENSRYCHE. "Silent Calls" starts off with some accoustic guitars and becomes a very emotional U.S. Metal Anthem with attacking guitar riffs and a total length of six minutes. For me, personally, this masterpiece of a song is one of the best tracks released in 2012. But also the remaining two songs "Veil Of Darkness" and "More To Give" deliver the goods. The first one being a straight rocking melodic smasher and the last track on the EP is filled with dark atmosphere and emotional guitar leads. For fans of bands like LETHAL, SACRED WARRIOR, HAVEN, HEIR APPARENT or OMEGA POINT, ALLOY 20 and their EP "Part I: Lost In The Veil Of Darkness" will be the newcomer sensation of 2012. I am very excited about this release, even if the cover art is a little too simple. The songs, the production and the packaging leave only one recommendation: Buy it now! The only reason this review does not end (yet) on 10 out of 10 points is because it is only an EP with 21 minutes. I will keep the 10 points for the first full-length album from ALLOY 20. Contact: www.alloy20rocks.com
9 points (Must Have Hammer)
By Martin Brandt