For those who are too young to know or do not remember, there was once a time when U.S. Heavy / Power Metal needed artists more than ever. Yes, during the early-mid 90s classic heavy power metal in the states suffered a lot. Labels were not interested, new bands were just a few and the audience preferred alternative/grudge acts. However, there were a few people, defiant of these dark ages who kept the flame alive. George Tsalikis was one of them, first as a singer for the legendary GOTHIC KNIGHT and afterwards as leader of the band ZANDELLE.
ZANDELLE released a couple of powerful albums both in the 90’s and later in 00’s. Therefore, it their dissolution, a couple of years ago, was a sad piece of news. George Tsalikis, however, could not remain idle. Not only he joined the mighty OVERLORDE, but also, he released his second solo album, four years after his first effort, called Return to Power.
Return to Power is a return to the early 00’s heavy/power metal, the sound that gave ZANDELLE their recognition from the fans. Should you be familiar with albums like Twilight on Humanity or Vengeance Rising, then the sound of Return to Power will not be breaking news to you. Steadfast double drum and bass provide a solid wall of sound upon which guitars mark, heavy riffs, and fast lightning solos. Songs vary from fast rockers like the anthemic “Together We Rise” to mid-tempo epics like “The Dragon Has Fallen”, each one of them sprinkled with Euro-power metal elements, just like good old ZANDELLE. Which means, catchy choruses, melodic guitar leads and soaring vocals and stacked together to create a feelgood album. Should I had to choose a couple of highlights I’d say, “Together We Rise”, “Live to Ride” and my personal favorite “Stand My Ground”.
Concerning the production, I’d say that I would fancy a more organic sound. Each instrument sounds a little bit flat and the overall sound too compressed and modern, something not necessarily bad, but it doesn’t bring out the excellent work that has been done in the guitars. However, the album is highly enjoyable.
Overall, George Tsalikis offers a great album for everyone who is into modern power metal, U.S. Metal and European metal. He manages to blend these two genders masterfully. Everyone into ZANDELLE, GOTHIC KNIGHTS, PRIMAL FEAR, early KAMELOT, do not miss it.