Third instalment from the Frontiers “manufactured” band  with two of the most acclaimed vocalists in metal in Symphony X’s Russell Allen and Ark/Masterplan/Solo vocalist Jorn Lande.  As with the previous two efforts all the music is penned by “songwriter for hire” Magnus Karlsson (Primal Fear / Starbreaker etc)  who contributes all guitar, bass and keyboard to the album.  As if often the case with long distance albums of this type the project does loose some of the closeness a direct collaboration between all involved might give.  That said, despite this being quite formulaic melodic metal in terms of song writing its going to be somewhat of a hit and miss affair.

Vocally there is little to fault. Lande is in fine form giving a commanding delivery. Allen’s vocals don’t have quite the sheen they had back in earlier Symphony X days but still are still noteworthy in terms of phrasing and impression.  Karlsson’s guitar work is perfectly functional, the guy has never blown me away in terms of originality but is solid enough, his strength more as a songwriter than a guitar hero which is perhaps the whole idea given the branding of this album.

Highlights come in the guise of the title track with its punchy delivery and here the two vocalists combine admirably.  Goodies are to be had elsewhere in the melodic vocal fest of “Turn All Into Gold” and “The Guardian” where the mix of vocalists and song writing again gel nicely indeed.  That’s not to say all is strong, the album does get a little safe and bland in a number of places, particuarly “Maya” and the plodding “Eternity”.  Overall the song writing is solid, but lacking a little in terms of originality and there is a sense of having heard in all before by a number of different acts.

“The Showdown” sees the tried and tested Allen Lande formula again working mostly as it should with the album being a little heavier and more straight-ahead than its predecessors, but like its precursors also leaves me finding it somewhat of a mixed bag, not that there is anything terrible here but nothing truly mind blowing either.

 Overall if you liked the predecessors you will like this.

Rating  – 78%

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