Balance Of Power - Heathen Machine
Massacre Records
Melodic Progressive Metal
9 songs (56'43)
Release year: 2003
Balance Of Power, Massacre Records
Reviewed by Ben

Losing your vocalist is a huge setback to any band. Losing a vocalist like Lance King is almost career suicide for any band. Losing your vocalist Lance King and replacing him with a complete unknown is a major risk for any band. The reason I say these three things is because that is exactly what happened in the Balance of Power camp before the recordings of Heathen Machine. Now, I usually don’t get all uppity when a band changes singers, I do mind and care but for Balance of Power I was in an uproar. I, like many others fell in love with Balance of Power’s perfect mixture of Melodic Hard Rock, Power Metal, and Progressive Metal and Lance’s vocals was the glue that binded the killer songs that Tony Ritchie wrote together. I still decided to give the guys in BoP a shot out of respect but really didn’t stay up to date in what has happening in the BoP world until Heathen Machine finally came out. When it arrived in my mailbox I was anxious to how it would sound and popped it in and pressed play…

The first thing to hit me was that the new vocalist, John K. has some great pipes. The intro track The Rising is just a short little song with John’s voice and keyboards and he sounds a lot like Geoff Tate in the upper registers. So despite the fact that Lance was one in a million and John ends up reminding me of Geoff Tate in every song Balance of Power did manage to find a competent voice for their music. Hell, I bet that the new fans that become converted with Heathen Machine will fall in love with John’s voice but I already had the (mis)fortune of being acquainted with songs like Daybreaker, Under the Spell, Walking On Top of the World, It’s Not Over, Shelter Me, and One Voice for years now, so that makes me a bit biased to say the least. Another change in the band comes in the sound style. Before, there used to be quite a bit of hard rock leanings to their sound but now that is wiped out completely except for bits and pieces here and there. What we have now is a much darker, heavier, and more progressive sound. With the average song length being around six and a half, seven minutes each track has room to grow and go off to different places musically and they all do just that.

The first full song after the intro is the title track and quickly laid to rest all the fears and premonitions that I had about the album. It has a speedy, thick, heavy, made for headbanging riff and John sings great here. The bridge is pure Balance of Power bliss and the chorus has those great trademarked dynamics that we all know and love. Things slow down a bit for the next one, I Wish You Hear. This one is more midpaced and has some cool keyboard work and solos in it as well. Some more killer songs on here are No Place Like Home, Eyes of the World, and Wake Up Call. Wake Up Call has a few of those old school hard rock influences in it especially with the very catchy chorus. Its strange because the chorus sounds hard rock but the rest of the song manages to sound like Prog Metal on steroids, a great mix.

Not every song on here is great though. Take Chemical Imbalance for example. This does nothing for me at all. John ends up sounding like Geoff Tate the entire song which annoys me because he has a great natural voice and shouldn’t have to sing like someone else for the duration of an entire song. Just Before You Leave is as close to a ballad as you get on Heathen Machine but it isn’t a great one. Maybe for other sub-par bands this would work but for Balance of Power I expect the best. Compared to other Power Ballad songs like Do You Dream of Angels? and Shelter Me, Just Before You Leave pales in comparison.

In the end I am satisfied with Heathen Machine. If you are like me and have been listening to Balance of Power for a long time now then you have to realize, this is a whole new band. A new singer and a new sound and Tony even cut his hair and dyed it blonde or gray! (can’t tell exactly what it is due to the color scheme of the booklet) I know that’s nothing really but it’s hard to imagine him rocking out to songs like Overnight Sensation, Against the Odds, or Believe it or Not with his new ‘do. I personally liked this album a lot but I will admit, it took about seven listens to get over the fact that Lance is no longer singing for them anymore. I would suggest the older fans to give Heathen Machine a shot, it deserves your attention and you’ll come to enjoy John’s voice, they did a good job in finding him.

Killing Songs :
Heathen Machine, Wake Up Call, and Eyes of the World
Ben quoted 87 / 100
Other albums by Balance Of Power that we have reviewed:
Balance Of Power - Book Of Secrets reviewed by Erik and quoted 84 / 100
Balance Of Power - When The World Falls Down reviewed by Erik and quoted 80 / 100
Balance Of Power - Heathenology reviewed by Ben and quoted no quote
Balance Of Power - Perfect Balance reviewed by Chris and quoted 86 / 100
Balance Of Power - Ten More Tales ... reviewed by Chris and quoted 83 / 100
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