Breaking The Chains
Nuclear Blast Records, 1999
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/22/2000
As much as I'm not the biggest fan in the world of retro-metal, I have to give the Australian quartet Pegazus a lot of credit. Not only have they studied the lessons of bands like Iron Maiden and Manowar, but they've successfully taken that sound and feel and translated it into modern-day music. Their latest release, Breaking The Chains, is ample evidence of this.
The band - vocalist Danni Ceceit, bassist Cory Betts, and the brothers Stoj (Johnny on guitars, Robbie on drums) -- do something interesting on the ten cuts that make up this album. They take almost the exact sound of classic '80s metal and make it both interesting and relevant for today.
To be honest, I didn't think they'd pull it off this well. After the album's opener "Metal Forever," I was able to appreciate the effort and musicianship of the band, but I was worried that the rest of the disc would continue in the "death-to-all-but-metal" posturing that bands such as Manowar made a career out of. Fortunately, Pegazus shows that they have many other facets to their music.
Once you clear the hump of "Metal Forever," Breaking The Chains runs for what seems like an eternity without making a single mistake. Tracks like "The Crusade," "Tears Of The Angels," "Chariots Of The Gods" and the title track all serve as proof that not every band worships the thousand-note guitar solo. Instead, Pegazus actually put some effort into crafting a good song structure and a powerful rhythm track. This is what really helps to push this band over the edge and make this disc so entertaining.
It actually gets to the point that you might not care that precious little new musical ground is being broken. In truth, it doesn't really seem to matter. If Pegazus can be credited for anything, it would be that their sound pays warm tribute to classic Iron Maiden. While you'll enjoy this disc as long as it's playing, don't be surprised if you find yourself digging out your battered copies of Powerslave or Somewhere In Time after this disc ends.
Mistakes? There are just a few. Pegazus makes only one real mis-step on the last original track, "Apache Warrior." This concept and rhythm sounds a bit forced, and the track suffers as a result. The only other qualm I had was on their otherwise impressive cover of Helloween's "A Little Time." This track is still very fresh in my mind (having been pulled from Better Than Raw, which was released just a few years ago), and I can still hear the vocal harmonies in the chorus. Sadly, these are chucked out the window on this cover... and the difference is quite noticeable. Still, an otherwise applaudable effort.
Breaking The Chains is the kind of disc that you might not want to like before you've heard it, but you'll find hard to yank out of your CD changer once you've experienced it. Pegazus soars high with this release, hitting only a little turbulence on the journey. If you still long for the days of metal's glory, Breaking The Chains is a modern-day reminder of why you fell in love with the genre in the first place.