23 ACEZ – EMBRACING THE MADNESS (Freya Records)

Review by Officer Nice: I saw a discussion, on Facebook, about Belgian bands. Belgium is a little and actually bizarre country but nevertheless we had some great bands in the past, in Metal but also in other styles of music. In Pop music and especially in the dance scène we delivered world famous DJ’s. If we talk about the Metal scène; since the Eighties we delivered multiple qualitative bands in different styles but none of them ever reached the point of being worldwide successful. What we can conclude is that after all these years our Metal scène kept on growing and I notice new bands are keep on coming as well. 23 Acez is another Belgium formation, a band I only knew by name… but I read very positive things about them.

“Embracing The Madness” is their third effort and I can say immediately it is a damn good one. Progressive Metal isn’t a common style to play, certainly not in Belgium. I have always been a fan, especially when it beholds some power as well. I really adore the atmosphere in this kind of music and it is a first positive thing I can find back on this release as well. This album sounds professional and it’s very clear some good musicians are at work here. I admit this record needed a lot of time to get into but the more spins I took, the more I really enjoyed this one. The sharp riffs, the intense played guitars, the awesome and fine-tuned leads, the technical played drums and strong bass lines are working along perfectly.

The band kept a good focus on performing technical music and it is the brand of this release. It doesn’t mean these lads didn’t hold their eyes on melody and harmonic arrangements as well, the listener can’t complain about it but, as I’ve said before, it will take time. Once you will begin to know the songs you will notice how strong this band really is. No, this isn’t the new Fates Warning or the old Queensryche, nor is it Outworld or Darkology but overall I hear a band that stands it’s ground perfectly by combining heavy passages with awesome played melodic parts. The twin guitars works all the way and the variation in every track is responsible for the fact that the listener is never bored. The solos are at some points really spectacular and I really adore the way they are played, intense and with all the emotions the musicians have in them.

I hear a good singer, a man with a clear and strong voice. This vocal sound pleases me and although Benny “Zors” Willaert isn’t an exceptional talent, his voice stands strong on this release. I really like the heavier passages on the one side, with razor sharp riffs and the more emotional parts on the other way. There are emotions in this music, into the songs, some vocal performances, without any doubts in the leads and even in some aggressive drum parts! That’s just amazing! It proves how strong 23 Acez really is.

“Embracing The Madness” needed time but I can already say there’s a big chance this one will end into my year list. I enjoyed every single minute of this release and this is immediately one of my favorite present Belgian Metal bands. This formation is strong enough to cross the Belgian borders and fans of this specific genre really needs to get their hands on this one. Additional info at: http://www.23acez.be

My rating: 89/100 (Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it)

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