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Realmbuilder : Fortifications of the Pale Architect

They say you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover. But on occasion, that could save you a lot of time. That's the case with that Realmbuider album.

They say you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover. But on occasion, that could save you a lot of time.

Take Fortifications of the Pale Architect, for instance, the sophomore album of New York epic doomsters Realmbuilder. The cover looks like it was very earnestly created (in MSPaint) by someone with a rudimentary grasp of perspective, but without any real knack for composition, no comprehension of proportions of the human body, a lack of appreciation for the distinction between good and bad fantasy, a lazy streak--and most importantly, a complete inability to look at his own finished product and say, "Well, that sucks." Translate that critique of visual art into a critique of music, and you can see where this is headed.

These guys have a rudimentary grasp of what makes good metal. After innocuous horse sounds, the record begins on a nice NWOBHM-style riff. A handful of other riffs here are actually pretty good. A handful of the solos are very good as well. The vocal style is a non-horrible clean vocal in the vein of many of the lesser epic doom and NWOBHM vocalists--you know, the guys who aren't Marcolin or Dickinson. I don't think I can say anything else good about Fortifications.

Most of the riffs are awkwardly put-together, like the place where the title architect's hand meets his arm. (Is his forearm three inches long?) The title track is a perfect example, sounding little better than something my untalented high school band would have jammed on for seven minutes without any idea of where we were going. The solo is pretty cool, I admit, but then it comes to the worst aspect of this whole album.

Worse even than the numerous ungainly riffs is the ungraceful vocal phrasing. It's as if all the lyrics were written separately from the songs, and they were jammed together on the fly. "Iron Wheels of the Siege Machines" is the worst example, because while it starts out OK, it has one of the worst choruses I've ever heard.

Finally, I have to mention the fantasy aspect. From what lyrics I picked up, not all of it is particularly bad. No worse than your average power metal, anyway. But they named the album and gave it art based on the worst story of the bunch. Why is building a fortress all that cool?

Fix the ladders
Stack the stones
We build the wall that shields the empire

This kind of mom's basement level D&D is what gives fantasy, and metal, a bad name.

Check out http://fullmetalattorney.blogspot.com/ for more metal reviews and commentary from Kelly Hoffart aka Full Metal Attorney.

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Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. Highwayman
2. Fortifications of the Pale Architect
3. Old Savage
4. Ascend to the Glass Kingdom
5. Iron Wheels of the Siege Machines
6. A Conflict between Dukes
7. The Stars Disappeared from the Sky When We Uncovered the Bones of the First Gods

Duration : Approx. 39 minutes

Visit the Realmbuilder bandpage.

Reviewed on 2012-06-21 by Kelly Hoffart
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