This is album number four for Finland’s Masterstroke, but this LP seems to show a band either in search of an identity or with an identity crisis. My guess is that it’s the latter. Musically, Masterstroke sounds like they’re a Power Metal band that wants to play Thrash, but their Power Metal roots keep showing. The result is a fairly potent musical assault that is heavier than your average Power Metal band, but still having the blazing solos and strong hooks. Where Masterstroke hits a snag is in the vocal department. Vocalist/guitarist Niko Rauhala has a good vocal range, but he seems to want to prove how tough he is by attempting to sound like Chuck Billy (Testament). This isn’t a good thing when your music has this much Power Metal in it. Power Metal demands clean, melodic vocals. When Niko goes for that, especially when an anthemic chorus hits, it sounds awesome. Listen to the chorus for “Seed of Chaos” and tell me that shit doesn’t rock. When he goes for a more Thrash-oriented style, things become disjointed. There are parts where the vocals clearly don’t fit the music. There is a time and a place for Thrash-styled vocals, and apparently Niko hasn’t figured it out completely. When the music is melodic, the best course is to be melodic vocally. Face it, Judas Priest would suck if Tom Araya suddenly replaced Rob Halford. That’s kind of the equivalent of what is on display here. The playing is fine. Musically, this is some pretty solid Thrash-infused Power Metal. If Niko can figure out the vocal aspect, Masterstroke will truly kick some serious ass. As it stands, Broken is a good album that could have been great, but just fell short. I suggest listening to two Heathen albums and giving it another go.
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