Portrait Of A Hangman


The idea of a band that mixes Power Metal with Thrash is a titillating one […]
By Mike Novak
May 12, 2010
Imagika - Portrait Of A Hangman album cover

The idea of a band that mixes Power Metal with Thrash is a titillating one to me. The ideal would be the mixing of the heavy nature of thrash with the melodic aspects of Power Metal without losing the effectiveness of either. A great example of this would be the Bruce Hall-fronted AGENT STEEL. Another would be Sweden's MORGANA LEFAY. However, sometimes the tag is misleading, since some bands that consider themselves power/thrash are really just watered-down thrash bands. Thankfully, IMAGIKA fits more in the former category than the latter.

IMAGIKA started off as a pretty straightforward thrash band in 1993, with the Power Metal influences becoming more apparent as the years went on. Their self-titled debut was released in 1995 and this, "Portrait Of A Hanged Man" is their seventh album. Longtime vocalist David Michael left in 2003 and was replaced by current singer Norman Skinner.

The material on this album is typically mid-paced. The guitar riffs and the solos are good, but not great. I do wish there had been slightly more variation in tempo throughout. There were some decent moments to headbang to, but nothing really kicked my face in. In other words, I felt that the intensity was lacking at times.

Even so, songs like "Wolves," "G.H.B." and "Scared To Death" are all gratifying slabs of Metal. "The Hit" even demonstrates some catchiness. Sadly, even though KING DIAMOND guitarist Andy Larocque makes an appearance, his work is wasted on the throwaway instrumental "A God No More." After the title track, the album plods, and as mentioned before, the fact that most of the songs are the same speed (with similar base riffs) gets a bit tiresome after the sixth or seventh song of the same basic thing.

I think one factor that can be faulted for the lack of intensity is the work of (now former) drummer Henry Moreno. Perhaps if new drummer Wayne De Vecchi (who is not heard on this album) has the ability to write more exciting drum parts, he can be moved more to the forefront in the mix. Also, while Norman Skinner certainly does a decent job in the vocalist position, he doesn't seem to be able to do either extreme, clean Power Metal vocals or harsh Thrash vocals, very well. When he is somewhere in between, which is where he stays most of the time, he's good enough. However, sometimes the music calls for something more melodic or more forceful and his attempts at either end of the spectrum are unsatisfying.

Overall, "Portrait Of A Hangman" is a decent album that mixes Thrash and Power Metal, but I was hoping for more. Their Myspace page classifies them as "Bay Area Thrash" and while the last thing I would want is another derivative retro-Thrash band, the tag is a bit misleading. Yeah I know they play something that's like thrash in the Bay Area, but that tag would lead most metal-heads to form different expectations than what IMAGIKA delivers.

Head on over to IMAGIKA's Myspace page and give some songs a listen, if what you hear sounds agreeable, definitely consider picking up "Portrait Of A Hangman".

6 / 10

Had Potential

"Portrait Of A Hangman" Track-listing:
  1. Scared To Death
  2. The Hit
  3. Keep The Wolves At Bay
  4. G.H.B.
  5. Portrait Of A Hanged Man
  6. Simple Servant
  7. One Word
  8. My Final Hour
  9. A God No More
  10. Halo Of Flies
  11. Shadow Of The Cross
Imagika Lineup:

Norman Skinner - Vocals
Steve Rice - Guitar
Robert Kolowitz - Guitar
Jim Pegram - Bass
Wayne De Vecchi - Drums

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