How much more attention do you think PYRAMAZE got when it was announced that singer Matt Barlow was rejoining ICED EARTH? Probably even more than when news hit that he was joining the Danish band after his departure from Jon Schaffer's juggernaut. It certainly expanded the knowledge of PYRAMAZE's existence in metal circles, even with three albums already under the group's collective belt. New disc "Immortal" may even gain the act a few fans from the ICED EARTH camp, considering that the style of hard-edged melodic power (not so much prog, but it's got that air about it) metal should find receptive ears, especially with Barlow at the helm.
The album is actually very guitar-oriented, at least as far as the thick and heavy riffing is concerned, while the rhythm section is muscular. Melody is still the central component, enhanced by the sparkling keyboards and Barlow's passionate patterns. The tunes have a certain density, in part because of the production and in part because of Barlow's fat tones. A slew of tunes are especially catchy in a gracefully powerful sense with smartly written choruses, "Year of the Phoenix", "A Beautiful Death", and "Caramon's Poem" particularly noteworthy. Then again, there really isn't a bad cut on the album, including the intro ("Arise"), outro ("March Through Endless Rain"), and a touching, keyboard-driven ballad called "Legacy in a Rhyme". And PYRAMAZE accomplishes it all by always composing in a way that focus on the guts of the song, rather than crowding the arrangements. It is the little touches of elegance, like the folk melody of "The Highland", that get the point across without seeming self-indulgent.
I'd like to see Barlow perform on the next PYRAMAZE, as he lends a distinctive voice to the band, one that is able to stand apart from the typical prog/power fare. A different singer may not have hurt this well written collection of songs, but the feel would have been drastically altered. As for "Immortal", the effort would make a worthwhile purchase for most folks who prefer a classy and melodic, yet still decidedly metal, album.