Sound — 9
"Phorceful Ahead," the third album by modern metal band Symphorce, is the first out of four fantastic albums, that pushes the line of power metal (their core sound) to a point where you no longer can call it just power metal. The pre-seeding album "Sinctuary" was a great power metal record, but on "Phorceful Ahead" the power metal is being mixed thrash metal and other genres. It would later also include a strong side of melodic death metal, first on 2005's "Godspeed" and then even more so on 2007's "Become Death." They also have some symphonic elements that has been in their music since the first album.
Even if they where still evolving, the band really found their sound on "Phorceful Ahead." A lot of this was thanks to the addition of guitarist Marcus Pohl and the introduction of 7-string guitars. The riffs are heavy, the drumming is intense and the guitar solos by Cedric "Cede" Dupont are incredible. He does a great mix of shredding and melody, and the amount of wha-pedal is just perfect. The tone of his wha is one of the best I've ever heard and Cedric really took his solos to a new level on this album. Check out the solos on "Unbroken," "Moving in Circles" and "Slow Down."
The opening track "Speak My Mind" has a fantastic intro with an epic and beautiful acoustic guitar melody that sounds timeless. It builds up to the slow but awesome main riff and also serves as the outro. It sets a great atmosphere for the rest of the album and it's a fantastic song, but I wish that it was longer though, cause it feels like it ends a bit too early and this stops the song from reaching even higher. "Unbroken" and "Slow Down" has the heaviest and best guitarwork on the album, and those solos are incredible. Most choruses are straight through power metal, but really good ones that doesn't cross the line into "cheesiness." "Rage of Violence" is another song that start with an acoustic guitar intro, this one sounding a bit like the "Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory" soundtrack. "Touched and Infected" has the best chorus on the record, and "Nothin' Left" has even got some death metal influences in the guitarwork.
Lyrics — 9
Vocalist and lyric-writer Andy B. Frank has a fantastic voice and quite a range. His lyrics and vocal melodies are simply awesome, one of my favorite singers of all time. He doesn't go super high all the time, like some power metal singers do, and he can also go very low. He's more famous for being the vocalist of Brainstorm, which is now his only band, since Symphorce sadly disbanded in 2011.
Not only is Andy a great frontman and livesinger, but between 1999 and 2011 he was featured on at least one album every year, except for 2006. Having written the lyrics for a total of 14 albums, he's definitely one of my favorite lyric-writers, and one of the most underrated vocalists in all of metal. His singing between 2003 & 2008 is simply amazing.
Overall Impression — 8
"Phorceful Ahead" was the beginning of something amazing; modern metal that doesn't care about what genre it's in. A great release, even if the 3 following albums outshines it. This was the last album with group vocals on the choruses, which might deter you from this record if you're not all of that into power metal. However, you don't have to be a power metal fan in order to appreciated Symphorce's music, especially the "Godspeed" and "Become Death" records. If you like traditional power metal more, then Brainstorm might be a better band for you. The strongest tracks are "Speak My Mind," "Unbroken," "Slow Down" and "Your Blood, My Soul."