Released: 2012, Pitch Black Records
Reviewer: Robert Williams
Access Denied who formed in 2003 are a five-piece traditional metal band hailing from Sopot, Poland. TOUCH OF EVIL is the band's second full length release (and first effort for Pitch Black Records) Prior to signing with Pitch Black Records the band had previously self released two demo recordings and a DVD.
TOUCH OF EVIL opens with a short symphonic keyboard interlude that serves absolutely no real purpose in life. Then arising from the ashes comes the howling shriek of the band's singer Agnieszka Sulich on "Messenger Of Death" as she begins to belt out some mighty fine, goth tinged, mid-range vocals back dropped against a strong branding of melodic traditional heavy metal. "Suicide Mind" has some instantly infectious vocal lines and an equally impressive metallic onslaught with it's driving, pulsing rhythm. The next track is "One Night" for which the band have made a music video for (explicit version found on this disc). I personally feel the first two songs are stronger compositions and would have been better equipped as a single, as "One Night" is neither as catchy or memorable as the first two tracks and has a slight classic rock influence to it.
"Secret Pace" gallops along (baring a fair amount of Seventh Son era Iron Maiden influence) and is delivered powerfully and convincingly without coming off as contrived. I'd wager that Agnieszka Sulich alone is enough to set this band apart from the countless Maiden clones wandering the earth. She brings a unique presence and style to the band's style. "My Dreams" features some abrupt stop-start rhythmic changes and showcases the tightness of the rhythm section of drummer Dominik Frukacz and bassist Paweł "Wolv" Nejczew. There's also some nice dual lead work towards the end of this track featuring the guitar tandem of Jacek Kolankiewicz and Mateusz Krauze who at times remind me a bit of one of my favorite American traditional metal bands Twisted Tower Dire (and I mean that as a compliment). Look no further than "Violence Of Mind" for further proof of their axe shredding, blazing lead work. "Touch Of Evil" begins as a melodic acoustic guitar piece before moving into more gothic and symphonic sounding territory. This slow to mid-paced number builds, working the overall dynamic range appropriately. At times though things song leans more towards the Nightwish side of things more so than the rest of the album but it's still an enjoyable listen for the most part.
The cover art or graphics for TOUCH OF EVIL is simplistic and for lack of a better term generic. The inner CD booklet is a much better put together affair than that of the actual album cover and features some nice full color glossy photos of the band, lyrics, credits, special thanks per the usual. The album production is great. I couldn't tell you who engineered or produced the thing as credits appear to be in Polish, but the production is never lacking in any regard. I'd recommend this disc for fans of traditional heavy metal that are looking for something sounding fresh and unique. This is a great record and band and I'm looking forward to hearing more from them in the future.