Risen from the ashes of Satin Black after 2008′s Harlequin debut, Dirk Frei, Axel Patzold, Peter Langforth, Alexander Backasch and Stephan Dietrich decided that a change in musical style – from thrash to a more 80s driven speed metal with NWOBHM influences – would constitute a name change.
Although the title adjustment makes complete sense, it would have perhaps been nice if the German quintet had picked a more inventive name for both album and band. Nevertheless, innovation is not Alpha Tiger’s priority as Men Or Maschine proves. That doesn’t necessarily draw them back from trying a rare experiment with an odd acoustic breakdown, a middle-eastern influenced outro like the one in second track Crimson Desert or even a folky intro to final track Black Star Pariah.
Borrowing lightly from traditional metal masters and harking back heavily to early Helloween, the quintet essentially serve up a slice of raging, retro metal for fanatic sticklers to certainly enjoy. Vocally, the work of Stephan Dietrich really doesn’t do anything out of the ordinary except for his involvement on the dreamy When Autumn Leaves Fall. But he does provide the necessary high-pitched wailing needed to balance the Maiden-esque duelling and modest yet potent riffing of Backasch and Langforth.
Set apart from the domineering speed and galloping traditional structures, Karma briefly flashes their thrashy side – no doubt revealing that Satin Black’s roots still flow through the veins of the Tiger somewhat. There might also be pre-cursor foundations of power metal found in this record too, especially when you appreciate the epic choir finish on Black Star Pariah.
It’s not a trailblazer, but what Men Or Maschine attempts – it succeeds in. A 100%-er for any nostalgic speed freaks or traditional metallers.