Mob Rules - Ethnolution A.D.
Melodic Progressive Power Metal
12 songs (51'24)
Release year: 2006
Mob Rules, SPV
Reviewed by Marty
With their first studio album since their live DVD release Signs Of The Time in 2005, a couple of line-up changes have occurred for Germany's Mob Rules. Gone is Oliver Fuhlhage (guitar) and Thorsten Plorin (bass) who have been replaced by Sven Ludke (guitar) and Markus Brinkmann (bass) respectively. Along with the new members comes a considerable change in sound for their fifth studio album Ethnolution A.D.

I've always considered Mob Rules to be a very underrated power metal band. With their first two releases, Savage Land and Temple Of Two Suns, they demonstrated an extremely solid grasp on how to be a melodic power metal band yet add little twists and colors to an already saturated genre with the result being some very catchy and original music. I felt that they peaked with the Hollowed Be Thy Name album with Among The Gods being a slight step back in quality. With Ethnolution A.D. , Mob Rules has "broadened" their musical perspective to include more progressive overtones including a 6 part conceptual title track clocking in at 26 minutes and even stripping it all down to a more melodic hard rock style for a couple of tracks. Does this all work? The answer is both yes and no.

The six part title track Ethnolution A.D. begins the album and after the usual epic intro, the Freedom Call / Queensryche flavored Unholy War begins the collection of songs that deal with various ethnic conflicts throughout the last 100 years of human history. The music is great with a cool main riff as is the chorus but lead vocalist Klaus Dirks with his Timo Kotipleto / Michael Kiske style of voice sounds whiney and very strained in spots. Ashes To Ashes continues the epic with it's trudging and orchestral sound topped off by building to a huge crescendo much like Queensryche's Eyes Of A Stranger. Things get a bit thrashy with Fuel To The Fire but once again, weaknesses in Klaus' voice tarnish the track a bit. After a short instrumental, Veil Of Death complete with some David Gilmour-ish guitar soloing, the epic finishes with The Last Farewell, a mid tempo melodic heavy metal song that again borrows from the ending to Queensryche's Eyes Of A Stranger complete with tape loops of voices and other mayhem. There are some bright moments in this 6-part epic but unfortunately; there are few instances with the rest of the album where they match the quality of the first 6 songs. Melodic hard rock styles are explored with Day And A Lifetime as well as Ain't The One complete with it's Eastern flavors provided by some sitar guitar. Day And Lifetime is actually quite a catchy track with some Angra feel to the chorus section but it may be a bit too much of a "tangent" for long time Mob Rules fans. Both River Of Pain and New Horizon get back to more up-tempo power metal with New Horizon being one of the few highlights of the last half of the album. Dramatic power metal with lots of synth work and a big "gang" style chorus results in a very strong track. With Sparrows begins with an epic Savatage feel via it's piano and big power chords and develops into a pretty solid power ballad with a huge soaring chorus, lots of progressive influences and a very strong vocal by Klaus. The final track, Better Morning sees Klaus taking a more James LaBrie approach to his vocals with this orchestrated track that really doesn't go anywhere. A weak pre-chorus/chorus really taints things and as the final song, it's a big let down and not a great way to end the album.

I found myself liking this album more and more with each listen as honestly, at first it didn't sound like a very promising candidate as another in a long line of solid Mob Rules albums. The awesome soaring and epic instrumental segments with many of the tracks save the day on more than one occasion. I like Klaus Dirks' voice but this album is one of those cases where in a few instances, the songs and melodies are much stronger than the vocals give them credit for. Overall, this is not one of Klaus' more consistent vocal performances. He sounds great on the bulk of the tracks but noticeably falters on a few others. Musically, it's not the more obvious progressive edge to the material on this album that's the real problem as for the most part it works very well. I think the real fault, besides some of the vocals, is the lack of consistency both in the type and quality of the material. They are all over the map with this one and styles range from mid tempo orchestrated power metal to progressive metal to heavier and thrashier power metal and even more middle of the road melodic hard rock. I get the feeling that this could be an "exploration" album in order to mix things up a bit and to redefine their sound especially with new members who are also contributing to the writing process. Although there are some great tracks on this album, they are very few in number. As a whole, the sound of the band is spectacular but from a song writing point of view and especially in comparison to some of their previous work, this one definitely falls short.

Killing Songs :
Ashes To Ashes, Fuel To The Fire and New Horizon
Marty quoted 72 / 100
Other albums by Mob Rules that we have reviewed:
Mob Rules - Radical Peace reviewed by Marty and quoted 92 / 100
Mob Rules - Among the Gods reviewed by Jason and quoted 85 /100
Mob Rules - Hollowed Be Thy Name reviewed by Mike and quoted 93 / 100
Mob Rules - Temple Of Two Suns reviewed by Chris and quoted 90 / 100
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