Oz - Transition State

Oz Transition State cover
Transition State
AFM Records
Average: 5 (1 vote)
Oz is a Swedo/Finnish band that formed in the late 70s and came to some prominence in the 80s, as Bathory’s Quorthon championed them and designed their covers. It’s actually his hand that appears on the cover of “Fire in the Brain”, the band’s sophomore effort.
They went in hiatus in 1991, to only reform 20 years later to release a “re-recordings” + new songs compilation then go quiet and now after losing their singer, Ape De Martini (which is a shame really), they continue with only one member the original drummer Mark Ruffneck still at the helm and new members around him; why that happened, I dunno, but it somehow creates a different “chemistry” and as such, “Transition State” is somewhat affected.
The band still sounds lots like mid-era Accept and the more melodic moments of Heavy Load and maybe Ostrogoth, but it feels that after the first couple of tracks, like “Bone Crusher” and “Restless” things go more hard n heavy, than heavy metal. Obviously, it’s done in a way that’s “compatible” to the band’s sound, but despite the occasional eruption, or stylistic throwback, most of songs sound “weaker” after that, with even some Stormwitch like moments in there. I suppose that, with such a radical band personnel change trying to redefine the style, within the confines of the sound, is what the band is trying to achieve, but what annoys me a bit is the change of singer. While Vince Kojvula, the new singer, has a pretty good voice (if not a little flat when he goes for his higher notes) that fits the style quite well, Ape De Martini’s style and long tenure with the band is hard to put aside and I hope that it was his choice to leave the band rather than him being pushed out of it.
Pretty uneven, with the band struggling to find its identity in 2017, I suppose the title is apt, but the fans shouldn’t be subjected to such experimentations… while the band shows promise and the ability to perform and write “well enough” in the first few tracks, it then shoots itself in the foot, by going for something infinitely more melodic, for which they “weren’t known”. If you’re an old fan, give it a spin… this is Oz, mostly in name and a bit in spirit, but it could turn out to swing either way…

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