Balance Of Power – Book Of Secrets (1998)

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Balance Of Power – Book Of Secrets (1998, Nightmare Records)

  1. Desert Of Lost Souls
  2. Walking On Top Of The World
  3. Book Of Secrets
  4. When Heaven Calls Your Name
  5. It’s Not Over (Until It’s Over)
  6. Do You Dream Of Angels
  7. Seven Days Into Nevermore
  8. Miracles And Dreams
  9. Stranger Days (To Come)

Band Lineup:
Lance King – Lead Vocals
Pete Southern – Guitars
Bill Yates – Guitars
Chris Dale – Bass
Lionel Hicks – Dums
Ivan Gunn – Keyboards

Additional Performers:
Rob Brown – Narration
Tony Ritchie – Backing Vocals
Tony O’Hora – Backing Vocals

Total Time – 53:18

Balance Of Power official website

I discovered Balance Of Power back in 1998 when I was shopping at my local music shop, 2 Guys Music (Warwick, RI), and this amazing music came over the store’s speakers. Now I usually spent hours in that store every weekend and heard tons of albums played over the P.A. but this album was a true masterpiece! The vocals soared and the music was so powerful that I stopped browsing and I just stood there listening…..taking it all in. When the music stopped, I grabbed a copy.

If I had to describe Balance of Power’s music, I would call it a combination of Progressive Metal, Power Metal, AOR, and Hard Rock. The music is awash in a twin guitar attack, a solid rhythm section, and lush keyboards. Each member of the band plays with serious proficiency, truly worthy performers that have obviously mastered their instrument. On top of all this is vocalist Lance King (ex-Gemini & owner of Nightmare Records), who has one of the best singing voices I’ve heard in a long time. The band I compare BOP to often is Royal Hunt, but with less keyboard noodling.

This is a concept album based on interpretations of  a book like the Dead Sea Scrolls and/or the Bible’s Book Of Revelation. It’s a very interesting presentation because the songs are joined by haunting narratives between the songs yet each song can stand alone as a single. These narratives (by Rob Brown) are short but they add an extra layer to the sensory overload the music delivers.

‘Desert Of Lost Souls’ is a quick minute long narration full of storm effects, gentle acoustic guitar and keyboards, and a spoken word introduction. Very haunting. Immeadiately, ‘Walking On Top Of The World’ kicks into high gear and the band dives right into the sensory attack. It’s a driving track that sets the Power/Progressive tone. Lance King sounds like a combination of early Geoff Tate (Queensryche) and Tony Harnell (TNT). The guitars are blazing in and out, solos traded back and forth, keyboards complementing the guitar…..it’s so good!

The title track is better than ‘Walking On Top Of The World’. It starts off slow with a keyboard intro and builds into a guitar riff that recalls Judas Priest’s ‘The Sentinel’. The song then takes off into a driving rhythm and riff and King comes in with a delivery that sounds a bit like Andi Deris (Helloween). As the song builds I always describe the feeling I get as being lifted up. The vocals and music just soar into the atmosphere, the harmonies build, and the guitar solo is great. The song is so good you don’t notice that it’s over seven minutes long.

‘When Heaven Calls Your Name’ starts off with acoustic guitars and complementing keyboards with a soft King vocal. The song kicks back into a power feast in the same vein of the previous tracks. Big guitar, big chorus and harmonies…..my favorite part is when they slow the song down midway through for an acoustic solo and then pound into the electric solo. The shortest song on the record, ‘It’s Not Over (Till It’s Over), clocks in just over five minutes. This is the most accessible song on the disc for the average music listener as it isn’t as progressive as the rest of the album. It leans more towards an AOR/Hard Rock vibe with prominent keyboards, almost sounding very dated and mid-80s. The power of the song comes through the without being overbearing.

Finally, a ballad to break things up. ‘Do You Dream Of Angels’ is another triumphant musical soundscape for the band but it showcases Lance King’s softer/slower delivery. This song doesn’t grab my attention like the faster ones do. It’s another exceptional song but it’s not what I’m looking for after the previous assault. That said, Balance Of Power is one of those bands that keep me interested. I may not like the song as much as some of the others but the band still creates a piece of work that I can still enjoy. ‘Do You Dream Of Angels” is a fine song, better than most ballads of the time, but I tend to gravitate towards the harder stuff. ‘Seven Days Into Nevermore’ opens with a simple keyboard intro and narration leading into the main riff and a quick solo. The main riff chugs along with the keys dropping over the top of another superb vocal. One of the harder songs of the album and one of my favorites.

At barely over eight minutes, ‘Miracles And Dreams’ is the longest song on the album. This is another favorite of mine due to the stop and go effect of the slower passages gliding into the full on Power pieces. I also like how the narration is added into the middle of the song adding an unexpected twist to the formula. What really gives the song length is the intrumental parts sprinkled throughout. The close, ‘Stranger Days (To Come)’, is another song that gives off a somewhat dated/mid-80s flavor. Keyboards and piano are a little more prominent on this track, especially during the slower passages. When the song speeds up, the power aspect comes back and it is more of the same excellent Power/Progressive Metal.

Bottom Line:
If you like AOR, Hard Rock, Power Metal, and Progressive Metal…..buy this. The musicianship is top notch and the vocals are flawless. It’s technical playing with melodic hooks and harmonies, the band taking the time to create memorable, catchy songs while adding in different sounds through their weapons of sound. It’s a big sounding record full of energy and heaviness. Favorite songs: ‘Book Of Secrets’, ‘Miracles And Dreams’, ‘It’s Not Over (Until It’s Over)’, and ‘Seven Days Into Nevermore’ but there really isn’t a bad song on the album. If you like Royal Hunt, Dream Theater, and Queensryche then you will like Balance Of Power.

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