On the surface, Emerald appear to be one of those underground, grafting European Heavy/Power Metal bands that either (1) do a couple of decent albums and vanish, (2) release a few independent ones and keep going for years or (3) plug away releasing good quality albums on a small-ish European label and you either stumble across them or not. Emerald actually fall into category 3. Generally a change of label and committed P.R. company can give a band a new impetus, get them noticed by some different people and set them on the right path again – so here we find Swiss band Emerald on their 8th album (!) and their first for Rock Of Angels (home of like-minded bands such as Mystic Prophecy, Guardians Of Time, Steel Prophet etc), and they sound like they will fit in just fine!
Utilizing the same line-up that delivered their previous album “Reckoning Day” in 2017, boosted by an excellent crisp, heavy, powerful production by V.O. Pulver, the band’s sound has much to offer Metal fans from Power through to Melodic, varying with interest through tempos and attitude. There’s a timeless quality about Emerald’s sound, bringing to mind bands such as Gamma Ray, Iron Fire, Crystal Eyes, Iron Savior and Human Fortress, all bands with similar markers and lengthy careers. Though Emerald’s sound is so rich that any fans of the genre are sure to find their own elements to hook onto.
The vocals, courtesy of Mace Mitchell are varied, dynamic and full-on Metal, reminding me of early-to-mid Kai Hansen at times. A style that for me works at it’s best on the quicker Power Metal tracks like the Gamma Ray-riddled Heaven Falls Down’, ‘The Wicked Force’ which also makes me think of short-lived Metallers Afterworld, and ‘My Final Stand’ with it’s echoes of Helloween’s ‘Victim Of Fate’. Though he also proves he can turn his hand at a decent power-ballad too on ‘Set Me Free’ that has at touches of classic Jon Oliva along with the hints of Savatage in the music.
Rejuvenated or not, only Emerald themselves can tell you, but on the audible evidence here, it certainly sounds that way. There is so much within this album to appeal to any fans within the Heavy/Power/Melodic Metal field – and make no mistake, Emerald are Metal! There’s a warm familiarity as well as a freshness to the songs on “Restless Souls” that, as well as showing maturity, also smacks of the band continuing to grow and embrace a new dawn…plus surely some European dates with Mystic Prophecy at the very least!!??
(7.5/10 Andy Barker)