I write this column from the road in Montana, on my epic cross-country journey to help Save the Valley and let people know about the situation. Needless to say daily drives of 5 hour+ makes for quite a bit of time to review the latest releases. This is a pick of some of the harder releases.
Defiance: The Prophecy
This is classic thrash from a band that broke up for 15 years and are keen to return to their past. This return of the past days of thrash is quite welcome for many a metal-head. The new wave of American thrash has some great advocates, but many still drift towards metal-core or come across as wannabes aping their heroes. Thrash also-rans are as bad as any other type of also ran.
Defiance on the other hand clearly have waited until they had something to say and have returned with a powerful set of thrashtastic metal. Kudos to Candlelight for signing this the great bunch of thrashers. They are not trying to reshape the genre just do what they do well. At this they excel and its great to hear old school thrash done so well.
Whether the title track or any of the rest on this release, if you like your classic thrash you will enjoy this release. The eleven tracks trod the ground that made the genre so likeable and attracted fans. This band’s fans bugged them to reform and have been duly rewarded. Help me welcome back a band who do what they do with aplomb.
Insomnium: Across the Dark
This is some heavy metal without the pretensions. One listen will not surprise anyone that they hail from Sweden. Like many of their counterparts they are not the slightest bit averse to adding keyboards when necessary. There is a metal prog tinge to some of the music, with screamo-ish singing over the top. There is a clear taste of modern metal about, but it all comes together in a such a nice package its hard not to like it.
Its no surprise this is the band’s fourth album as it shows maturity and a level of confidence that is found in bands with some time under their belts. The band certainly have no fear of tossing in what works while knowing what does not. Its full of doom and melancholy, but with a good dose of melody thrown in to avoid a dirge like sound.
There is enough here to satisfy goth fans, metal heads and even progressive metal fans. It’s a well rounded album which manages to hit all the right notes consistently track after a track. I am sorry to have to stop listening this CD and move on. Definitely a band to check out for those who like their metal with clever twists.
Secrets of the Moon: Priviledivm
A band beset by departures and all the related drama of “creative differences” splitting a band this is a long time coming. A bit of a re-invention this album seems Secrets of the Moon very much focusing themselves on a precise form of metal that at times reminds the listener of “Justice for All” era Metallica. While the vocals are a bit death or doom metal, there is a serious post-thrash metal feeling to it.
There is none of the black or death metal posturing about on this release. Its far more an album of straight ahead heavy metal, with emphasis on the heavier side of the genre. The doom elements are not suffocating and just add an interesting texture to the entire endeavour. I quite like this release for the focused nature of everything. The use of precision drumming is quite interesting as well, giving the sense of falling.
While the album is dark, there are elements of melody in the acoustic outro on “For they know not.”. Combining elements of black, death and traditional heavy metal this has something to attract almost all metal fans. The band are clearly trying not to pigeon hole themselves. A good release from an band re-born into something a great deal better.
Leave’s Eyes: Njord
The last release from the band was epic, deliberately I suspect, “Vinland Saga” with its great track “Elergy”. That track is still one of my top 10 tracks in this genre. With this release the band seem to have lost some of their edge and have not produced anything that intensely infectious. They included a rather uneventful and superfluous cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Scarborough Fair” which does rather disappoint.
At times it seems that the band have drifted away from the Within Temptation end of the spectrum and are heading towards something more Evanescence like especially on the track “My Destiny” with its male psuedo-nu-metal-rappiing/screamo vocals. Not sure what they were thinking with the track. It just doesn’t hold up as well as some of the stuff off the last release.
Truth be told Leave’s Eyes are best when they are doing their folk metal bit. They return to form on the gorgeous “Irish Rain” with its soaring melody and nice touches of acoustic guitar. Overall this album does not come across as that coherent or together, its as if they are not sure of what direction to head in with their music.
This is not a bad album, but merely a decent one. Leave’s Eyes are a great band with oodles of potential.
Imperial Vengeance: At the Going Down of the Sun
This bunch seem to be trying to evoke the same ground and the mighty new wave of British heavy metal heroes Saxon. This is about as British as it gets, steeped in the history of a once great nation. Practically frothing with the get up and go that saw the British empire be the largest the world has ever seen. A thick seam of history perfectly suited to any metal band worth its salt. This is a quintessentially British band that defies the convention of everything sounding American that happens often in the genre.
The band even date the period of history they are invoking. Not surprising its that of when the empire was at its height. Its quite interesting to see a young band take on such a mantle that is so fraught. Then again it worked rather well for the afore-mentioned Saxon and off course the mighty machine that is Iron Maiden. While I am not sure we can believe the assertion the album was written in a haze of cigar smoke, absinthe and gaslight, it certainly attempts to evoke that feeling.
If you were writing a late-Victorian steampunk game or movie this album would most certainly work brilliantly as a musical backdrop. Thought I am not always a fan of their vocal style, I quite like the entire vibe of the album.
Hope you find something to your liking in this collection of reviews. Have a safe and rocking week what ever you might be doing.