Scanner – The Judgement (2015) – After a lengthy absence, German power metallers Scanner are back with their sixth release and first record in nearly twelve years. Most would say that they left us with a relatively high point in 2002’s Scantropolis, but according to frequent MA reviewer and FromTheDustReturned scribe autothrall, the record is only decent at best. Fortunately, I’m still under the impression that autothrall is a man and not the god of heavy metal review, so his opinion will starkly be his own at the end of the day; especially considering that my review here will be based on having not heard any of the band’s previous material, like most newcomers to the band’s work.
Judging what I’ve heard from The Judgment, I’m almost inclined to agree with autothrall, but this is based on one simple observation – the beginning of the record is by far more powerful than most of its latter tracks. Though Scanner performs each and every cut on the record with a sense of power and precision that can be largely felt by the listener, there most certainly are a few moments when the formula seems to capsize on itself, resulting in a couple of unnecessary filler cuts like “Pirates 4:56” and “Known Better 4:41” which I want to like for a slew of reasons (mostly because of the dual guitar work of Axel Julius and former Levamnon axeman Andreas Zeidler) but can’t as they work to go nowhere. I also found the chorus line to “Pirates” rather annoying.
For a disc that comes in fighting with “FTB 4:02” and dazzles with both “Eutopia 6:13” and “The Judgement 5:12“, it’s a little unfortunate that the band couldn’t carry that awesomeness all of the way through. Regardless of this, the songs still manage to deliver musically and you’ll find yourself headbanging right along with the rest of the band as you sail through this hour of relatively strong power metal. A major highlight certainly lies within the vocal efforts of former Levamnon frontman Efthimios Loannidis, proving that he was a worthy addition to the band and hopefully will stay with them on future efforts. It really takes a great frontman to back a veteran act like this, and Efthimios is certainly just that individual.
Taking just one listen to “Eutopia” or “The Race” will firmly imprint his strengths into your skull, which makes for catchy choral earworms that I’ve still got ringing in my ears long after the record has concluded. The disc definitely showcases a lot of thunder and heat, and doesn’t seem to meander into soft love ballads, even though it’s quite possible that “Known Better 4:41” takes a bit of a harder edge to the romantic concept.
And despite the fact that album epic “Battle Of Poseidon 7:17” certainly makes use of the full force of the band, it doesn’t seem to have a very strong chorus, which threw it into the background for me. Autothrall really seemed to enjoy the disc’s final cut “The Legionary 5:17” as well, but I couldn’t get into quite as much. I felt that the ending section of the track proved strong enough, but it was admittedly a slow start. Even so, the record still delivers the kind of ripping power metal that fans want, especially if they’re fond of acts like Gamma Ray, Primal Fear, Iron Savior and others.
Say what you want about The Judgement, but I definitely think it’s a firm-footing that shows the band repositioned and ready to roll for a couple more years of heavy metal majesty. I have a good feeling about the future of Scanner and I’m quite certain that the band’s next offering will be an even stronger and higher praised effort. There might be naysayer’s abound, but considering what I’ve just heard, I’m not ready to count the German power metal vets out yet. Here’s to many more, gentlemen!
(11 Tracks, 54:00)