Classic metal has never found an easy welcome with personal tastes here but if it consistently sounded as irresistibly fun as the new album from French power metallers Mystery Blue does the genre would have received open arms far more often. Conquer The World, the new and seventh album from the Strasbourg quartet, is quite delicious. It cannot be claimed it is transforming the heart of classic metal/rock or even directing the genre to new avenues nor offering anything particularly new, but it does leave a deepest of satisfaction and pleasure seldom found in the majority of similarly soaked releases anywhere. It is just a great energising enjoyment which has the heart racing and fist pumping, simply rock n roll at its stirring invigorating best.
Mystery Blue was founded in 1982 by guitarist Frenzy Philippon and found a strong recognition within the hard rock/metal sound of the time. Their self-titled debut album of 1984 and its successor Circle Of Shame two years later found good success and acclaim as did gigs alongside the likes of Motörhead, Def Leppard, Saxon, Vengeance, H-Bomb, and Satan Jokers, but it was followed by the splitting of the band. 1996 saw Philippon resurrect the band with vocalist Nathalie Geyer, bassist Dany Ohlmann, and drummer Vince Koehler completing the new line-up. The album Spirit Of Your Song came out to a good response, with the successive releases Metal Slaves, Claws Of Steel, and Hell & Fury marking the band with ever increasing acclaim and recognition. A couple of bassist changes led to Matt Gabnai joining the band in 2011 and the foursome entering the studio to record Conquer The World with Uwe Lulis (ex-Grave Digger, Rebellion). Since returning Mystery Blue has gone on to share stages with bands like Paragon, Rebellion, Wolf, Adx, No Return and more as well as impressively gracing many festivals, and alongside their albums especially the new one released via Road Show Productions, has found a place to the fore of current classic/power metal.
The title track bursts into life after an initial barrage of inciting drums which then fades away making one wonder why and their mystery_blue_conquer_the_world_highpurpose though all is forgotten as soon as the song itself emerges powerfully from the rhythmic mists. It opens with a charged and heavy grind of riffs and the enthralling vocals of Geyer. She has a classic delivery which sweeps over the ear like a mix of Doro and Toyah, and once a handle is found with it is a great aspect amongst so many on the album. The song itself is a ‘traditional’ sounding track which does everything right without pushing its limits for an easily accessible and pleasing start to the album.
Things leap another level with the following Innocent Crime and Running With The Pack. The first song matches the opener in energy and irresistible washes of catchy hooks and enthusiastically driven riffs whilst bringing a more complex structure to the songwriting. It ebbs and flows seamlessly whilst all the time creating a pulse racing energy to envelope and reward the listener whilst the second is a different chunkier and sinewy encounter. The bass growls with deeper resonance whilst the rhythms slap harder with more malice behind the enterprising guitar play. With additional vocals from Andreas Babuschkin of Paragon finding a great unity with those of Geyer, the song is a thrilling and contagious instigator to heart, voice, and limb, and one of the biggest highlights.
It is closely matched by the likes of the excellent Evil Spell where Geyer at times wonderfully wrings notes from her throat alongside her great melodic castings, the thrashy Cruel Obsession with its crushing almost psychotic breath, and Road Of Despair. The last song is a thunderous runaway colossus of bloodletting riffs and bone cracking rhythms cored with a ravenous bass conjuration and infectious vocal squalls. It is a magnificent track stealing top honours amongst many impressive rivals.
The album does lose its grip a little with Ticket To Hell and the power ballad Keep On Dreaming due to personal preferences in regard to their classic metal intent, but even then it is still hard to pull away from their company. Conquer The World is an outstanding album which thrills and raises the heart rate from start to finish with mischievous imagination and irrepressible passion. It is a must check out for not only classic rock and metal fans but for all those with an ear for crusading unbridled fun.
Classic Metal riffs aplenty as the French headbangers return with their seventh opus.
The origins of Mystery Blue can be traced way back to the early 80’s, although the current line up bears no similarity whatsoever to those early days, only founding member Frenzy Philippon remaining from the bands original incarnation. Having kept plugging away and touring hard over the intervening years, the band now arrive with their latest offering ‘Conquer The World’ and what a monstrous slab of Metal it turns out to be.
From the thundering drum intro of opener and title track the scene is set for a rip roaring rollercoaster of a ride through some of the mightiest riffs you will hear this side of Halford city. Musically the band very much wear their hearts on their sleeves, ‘Innocent Crime’ screams Priest and Maiden, ‘Running With The Pack’ featuring guest vocals from Andreas Babuschkin (Paragon) again smacks of classic Maiden, which of course is no bad thing. Where Mystery Blue differ from the rest though is with the female vocal delivery of Nathalie Geyer who’s voice displays more twists and turns than a circuit of the Magny-Cours. Trying to describe Nathalie’s style is pretty difficult, however, my other half put it better than I could by describing her as a Metal Siouxsie Sioux, which I tend to go along with.
‘Cruel Obsession’ and ’Ticket To Hell’ continue to bomb along at breakneck speed ala Accept, keeping the dandruff flying before the momentary respite of ’Keep On Dreaming’ allows us to draw breath. Just as well really because my personal favourite album track ’Road Of Despair’ follows, which leaves me in a crumpled heap on the floor and totally exhausted. The wonderfully quirky and Demonic ’Behind Those Walls’ comes a close second though, a real mish mash of elements and riffs that had me playing my imaginary Flying V from start to finish. Closer ‘Accroche-toi a tes reves’ also deserves a mention, sung in French and providing the perfect lighters in the air finale.
This album pretty much has it all, howling Wolves, Didgeridoos and some of the best Metal guitar work you’ll hear this side of the French Alps. What more could you want!
Simon Bower - Planetmosh