Picture this - a long-haired urban warrior wielding a katana and riding a motorbike, flowing locks billowing out behind him, riding through a post-apocalyptic cityscape and fighting off ninjas. Who are also riding motorbikes. Hands up who thinks that's an awesome image.

If the answer to this is no, go back to your pretentious indie wank.

If the answer to this is yes, then you have just described the cover art to Hibria's first album, "Defying the Rules" and awesome indeed it is. Hibria, a quintet of Brazilians, formed in 1996 but only producing their first album in 2005. They currently consist of Iuri Sanson on vocals, Diego Kaspar and Abel Camargo on guitars, Eduardo Baldo on drums, and Benhur Lima on bass. While those of you who follow Brazilian metal may be thinking of Sepultura or Torture Squad or other grinding, flailing death and thrash metal acts, Hibria are quite different.

Firstly, there's a lot of Iron Maiden and Iced Earth in here. Galloping, looping, riffs and soaring vocals. Dueling guitars as well. Also quite a lot of inspiration, it seems, from Queensryche. Listen to the opening of Hibria's "Living Under Ice" and compare and contrast with Queensryche's "Eyes of a Stranger." Some similarity. Iuri Sanson's vocals also seem to have quite a lot of Daniel Heiman of Lost Horizon about them. It's not exactly innovative or groundbreaking but it's just done so well.

They also covered Frank Sinatra's song "I'm Gonna Live Until I Die" on their latest album, "Blind Ride."

And yes, like all good power metal bands, they have a concept album. And it's their first album! And it's got an original storyline behind it. It goes something like this. The hero is that long-haired badass katana-wielding biker on he cover, "Heeeee's the Steel Lord on Wheels! DEFYING THE POWER!" who is some sort of post-apocalyptic knight errant who discovers something vastly important called "the gateway of fire" in the dark lands ruled by an evil overlord called "The Faceless" who has an army of ninja mooks. The Steel Lord on Wheels goes on a "Millennium Quest!" to energise the oppressed peoples of the world against The Faceless and succeeds until he's captured and forced by the Faceless to renounce everything he stands for. Which, of course, he refuses and escapes in a "high speed breakout" before being slaughtered while attempting to escape. But they can't stop the signal, and the people of the World are implored, in the awesome final track, to "stare at yourself," for "the power can be found!"

I think.

I don't care too much about this all that much. It's certainly splashy and singable enough. "Millennium Quest! The gateway of fire! Who reaches first will rule the times!" "BEYOOOOND REGREEETS OF THE PAAAAAAST!" Although not as singalongable as Rhapsody of Fire ("GLORIA, GLORIA PERPETUA, IIIN THIIIIISS DAAAWWNN OOOOFF VIIIIIICTOOOOORYYYY!")

To be fair, they have gone downhill a bit. Their latest album had less soaring and was a bit too conventional and suchlike for my liking. "Defying the Rules," their first album was easily the best power metal album of 2005, but "The Skull Collectors" released in 2008 was a step down, and "Blind Ride" from 2011 a further step down also. Live, I can't say, I've not seen them and I've only met one other person who likes them and he was a very drunken Finn with whom I off-keyishly sang "Living Under Ice" at Wacken in 2011.

Hopefully this will change because all you chaps are going to rush out an buy all their stuffs now, aren't you? If you aren't, then you're clearly agents of the Faceless. Off with you!

(IRON NODER 2011, 29/30)

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