Alpha Tiger - 'Man Or Machine' (Sonic Attack) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Matt Phelps   
Saturday, 18 June 2011 05:30

man-or-machine-alpha-tigerA five piece outfit from Saxony, Alpha Tiger have already released one previous album titled 'Harlequin' under the name Satin Black. Recruiting current frontman Stephan Dietrich though led to a change of musical direction to a more classic Eighties metal sound. Currently residing on Sonic Attack, a label created by former Noise International manager Karl Walterbach (Noise International = Classic Helloween in my book) Alpha Tiger are fuelled by melodies, power and a modern technical approach. Plenty of comparisons then could be drawn between their new album 'Man Or Machine' and their fellow countrymen's early offerings of 'Walls Of Jericho' and 'Keeper Of The Seven Keys, Part 1'. Certainly enough comparisons to get my interest, but enough to sustain it...?

'Starriders' gets things off to a perplexing start. A solid delivery of riffs, pounding basslines and crashing drums all seemingly at war with the vocals of Dietrich. Fighting to hold their ground against a singer who seems hellbent of stealing the show with vocal gymnastics rather than taking a team player place alongside the other guys. 'Crimson Desert' is up next and shows a band more than capable of kicking out a killer tune swollen with juicy riffs and rhythmic precision marching into Queensryche territory. But again I'm finding it a little hard to just take in the music as Dietrich flies so high over the top of it it's probable that only dogs can hear him at some points. Don't get me wrong, Stephan Dietrich is certainly blessed with a voice that has power and range and he could be just two steps behind Michael Kiske but unfortunately unlike Kiske he comes across as being just a Sometimes Dietrich seems to be in constant competition with himself, each note straining to get higher than the last one which at times can leave parts of 'Man Or Machine' pretty painful to listen too.

Thankfully though 'When Autumn Leaves Fall' soon shows what a more relaxed Dietrich is capable off. Starting with a blend of melodic tranquillity and Dietrich holding a far more restrained approach to his vocals the resulting track shows what a perfect combination of talents this line up has within its ranks when they all flow together. 'Against The Time' shoots out some more classic metal that would have had a perfect home had it been gracing Noise International's books alongside Helloween in the Eighties. Peter Langforth and Alexander Backasch duelling out some tantalising harmonies that rekindle memories of the days when Michael Weikath and Kai Hansen's riffs and solos revolved around my turntable non stop. There are some true gems on 'Man Or Machine' but many of them I'm afraid are buried treasures as you really have to work to get through some of the over bearing vocals to reveal the true majesty of what's going on underneath. 

Musically I love this album, there are some stunning arrangements held within the nine tracks that complete 'Man Or Machine'. There are times when, as a unit, Alpha Tiger gel like Danny Zuko....smooth as fuck, 'When Autumn Leaves Fall' is the best example for this......BUT there are others where it all seems just a little too strained and almost forced to the point of parody on Dietrich's part which is unfortunate. A little reigning in on the top end of the vocals and this could have been something special but too many times I'm just left wondering why none of the other Alpha Tigers or the producer who's created a sensational wall of metal sound asked Dietrich to keep his top notes just a little lower than the ozone.