Science-fiction images run abound with Scanner, a band hailing from Germany. The speed/thrash/power metal outfit began back in 1985 under the name of Lion’s Breed and the album Damn The Night. The moniker changed to Scanner in 1986 and since then there have been several line-up adjustments with guitarist and band leader Axel A.J. Julius seeming to be the sole constant and original member. For this, the sixth effort from Scanner titled The Judgement, we see a roster consisting of Julius and Andreas Zeidler handling guitars, Jonathan Stell delivering the bass, Patrick Klose seated behind the kit and Efthimios Ioannidis providing the vocals. Also listed as in studio help are Dirk Biesgen (additional keys) and Franz Eicberger (drums). Over the years, Scanner have released six full-length albums and the back catalogue reads as Hypertrace in 1988 (and featuring Ralf Scheepers of Primal Fear providing some backing vocals), Terminal Earth in 1991, Mental Reservation in 1995, Ball Of The Damned in 1997 (again seeing Scheepers assisting with lead vocals for one track) and Scantropolis in 2002 (showcasing the female vocals of Lisa Croft). Now they return to the musical landscape with The Judgement approximately thirteen years after the last outing.
It’s a little hard to shake the Iron Maiden Somewhere In Time album cover from my mind when considering The Judgement‘s cover artwork, but it is nice to see good artwork such as this adorn an album in this day and age. We begin with the inventively titled 50 second long “Intro” which, as most intros, does not overly endorse anything to me. After that, we erupt in fine speed metal fashion with “F.T.B.” which as the chorus surfaces you realise actually stands for “Fuck The Bastards”. The soft sound of falling rain behind the haunting spoken word beginnings of “Nevermore” fall away to the opening guitar riff of another thrash-paced offering. The thunderous out of the gates assault of “Warlord” develops into a catchy chorus and is loaded with interesting tempo changes for so far the best on The Judgement. “Eutopia” clocks in at 6:13 and starts off a little more melodic than anything heard so far, for a great power metal submission. New best of the lot right here! The title track, “The Judgement” starts off with a great riff and melodic verse before changing gears, but overall passes by quite quickly, melding into the background and paling in comparison to the former offering. The album’s longest cut at over seven minutes, “Battle Of Poseidon”, seems more fare incredibly similar to the opening two tracks, not offering anything overly new to The Judgement. “Pirates” follows the same vein including some background chanting and “Known Better” charges off the starting line with a catchy pounding riff, a great workout playlist song. “The Race” and the album’s closer of “The Legionary” are back to delivering the speed metal assault, also great in your ears as you pound the belt of the treadmill!
Each composition is near or over 5 min long providing a lengthy excursion of speed/thrash metal on The Judgement. Overall the album is better than average I’d say but for me it’s the power metal-ish feel of “Eutopia” that made the graduation to the ‘ole MP3 player and unfortunately, I don’t see myself spinning the rest of The Judgement on a regular basis.