Balance Of Power - Book Of Secrets
Pony Canyon
Melodic Rock/Metal
9 songs (59'18")
Release year: 1998
Balance Of Power
Reviewed by Erik
Archive review

After the somewhat successful debut album When The World Falls Down hit it off on Japanese radio (due to the Pony Canyon label), British band Balance Of Power came under pressure to not only deliver a followup quickly, but also to replace singer Tony Ritchie with someone more dynamic behind the mike. In addition, guitarist Paul Curtis retired, so let's just say founding member and keyboardist Ivan Gunn had his hands full. Lance King stepped up as vocalist, Pete Southern filled the missing guitarist spot, and Ritchie stayed on as principle songwriter while the forthcoming Book Of Secrets took shape.

The changes are almost immediately apparent in the opening moments of Walking On Top Of The World, a great album starter. Heavier axework is present, and while the keyboards are still very prominent, they aren't layered on quite as thick as before -- much like filling your pool with water rather than jello or cool whip. However, the biggest improvement makes itself known the first time Lance King cuts loose on the chorus. The man has an amazing vocal range, but it's a natural range for him. No straining, all control. Every bit of their sound, in fact, is much more focused and very progressive when compared to the preceding debut. The band's true talent is allowed to shine here, especially the guitarists, who produce some excellent riffs and solos. Nothing flashy, this isn't a Malmsteen clone, but very competent and pleasant to listen to.

Not all traces of BoP's roots are gone, however. A few tracks sound like they could have come from When The World Falls Down, the striking difference again being King's great vocal delivery, which takes even average tracks and elevates them to near-greatness. Melodies and catchy choruses are everywhere, and the production is excellent. The distinctive 80's influence is still very present -- just try listening to the first few seconds of It's Not Over (Till It's Over) without Cutting Crew springing to mind! Overall, though, this album brings the BoP sound clearly into the melodic rock/metal domain, especially on the eight-minute Miracles And Dreams. Every band member pulls out all the stops for this one, including some double-bass drum work and an astounding vocal performance from King.

Book Of Secrets took BoP to the next level, and even with ballads and a few older cues present, remains a very enjoyable and technically proficient album, setting the stage for several more solid offerings to come. If you need some great melodic rock/metal in your life along the lines of Fifth Angel or even Fates Warning, and have not yet heard the highly underrated and overlooked excellent-ness that is Balance Of Power, pick up Book Of Secrets without disappointment.

Killing Songs :
Walking On Top Of The World, Miracles And Dreams, Book Of Secrets
Erik quoted 84 / 100
Other albums by Balance Of Power that we have reviewed:
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 - Heathen Machine reviewed by Ben and quoted 87 / 100
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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