BISS – X-Tension

BISS - X-Tension
  • 6/10
    BISS - X-Tension - 6/10


AOR Heaven / Soulfood
Release date: November 17, 2006

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

The German/Swiss coop goes into round two! On their fourth album, which is outfitted with a rather strange cover artwork, Biss finally managed to keep a singer for more than one album. That is a good thing for Biss fans as this continuity in lineup makes X-tension pick up where the last album Face Off left off.

Ralf Heyne on guitar performs very classic and simple riffs, the type that has become typical and a trademark for German Metal around the world. They build the backbone for every song, and this is obviously done intentionally as the guitar sound stands out in the production, and sometimes threatens to dominate even over the vocals, although the performance of Mark Storace, known for his work with Swiss Metal legend Krokus, is the best ingredient of Biss’ music on the album. Bass and drums are okay, but only do what is expected of them and do not draw focus on the rhythm section. Mark and Ralf definitely call the shots, and so the compositions also come as no surprise as straight Hard Rock dominates, although it is less AC/DC-influenced than Storace’s primary band.

That can be very satisfying … when infectious riffing like in the opening tracks “Run For Your Life” and “V Card” drives the songs, and Marc Storace delivers his vocals with one of his best performances ever, knowing when to push to the front and when to serve the song by keeping a lower profile and creating a feeling of suspense. That, and the delicate solo leading back into the great riff, makes the latter track and slow, pulsing “Train Of Thoughts” some of the best moments on the whole album.

Other highlights include the positively Accept-like “Shout It Out,” which could be a composition from the Metal Heart-era, “Born To Ride” where Marc sounds almost Bluesy before plunging into the fast, melodic chorus again, and “Blood On The Sand” with its beautiful guitar leads, which was co-written by Mat Sinner.

Unfortunately, there is also a downside as the band does not keep the high level up through all the compositions. Tracks like “Always,” “Eagle,” and “Catch 22” are just common “standards” for this style and fail to keep the course for X-Tensions. On top of that, the cover version of Heart’s classic track “Barracuda” does not recapture the original’s feeling. Even with Marc’s voice, this is just not it, as the contrast between the heavy riffing and Ann Wilson’s nice, female voice was part of the sensation. The guys could do nothing but fail to reproduce this one.

Also, Hard Rock “intelligent” lyrics are not necessary … and the opposite is often deliberately overlooked. As Marc Storace, Krokus, and Biss were never known for lyrical prowess, the same has to be case here. The words mostly work only as a vehicle for the vocal lines, and range from nonsense like “Run for your life, sweet ballerina …” and “The moon is high, vampires fill the sky …,” to an old rocker’s wet dream in “V Card.” It is probably too much to ask for, but why not expect Hard Rock to be just a tiny bit more intelligent?

Overall, this is a good, but not brilliant, release that is lifted up into the positive side of the scale by Marc Storace’s performance, and which will appeal to fans of older Biss, Accept, AC/DC, Dokken, and Krokus.


  • Frank Jaeger

    Frank was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio, based out of Bavaria, Germany. He has worked in the games industry for more than 20 years, now on the manufacturing side, before on the publishing end. Before this, he edited and handled the layout for a city mag in northern Germany ... maybe that is why he love being part of anything published. Frank got hooked on Metal at the age of 14 when a friend introduced him to AC/DC. They were listening to The Beatles, Madness, and The Police, and he decided they should move on. Well, they did, Back in Black became Frank's first Metal album, and since Germany is reasonably close to England, they had some small New Waves Of British Heavy Metal washing up on their shores: Tygers Of Pan Tang, Samson, Gillan, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Sweet Savage, Diamond Head, etc. If he had to pick his favorite styles, Prog and Power Metal would be at the top of the list.

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