Reviews for May 28th, 2013

A Sound of Thunder – Time’s Arrow

A Sound of Thunder is a metal band from Northern Virgnia (NoVa!) and “Time’s Arrow” is their third album.

Last year I came across A Sound of Thunder when they released their second album, “Out of the Darkness.” I was blown away by the vocal power of singer Nina Osegueda and the stellar production quality. The fact that the band hails from my area was even more exciting.

I’ve missed a couple opportunities to see the band, most recently opening the Raven 30th anniversary show at Empire (which was a double bummer because I’ve never seen Raven and really want to) but I’ll get there one of these days. As much power as the band displays in their recordings, I’m sure their live show must be amazing.

I don’t generally talk about a lot of female-fronted metal bands. This is not because I’m some misogynist, anti-female-in-metal guy or anything that stupid. There simply aren’t that many women singing that really blow me away. I respect the operatic singers in gothic symphonic metal, but they don’t excite me and get the blood pumping.

There are several female-fronted metal bands making the rounds right now, however, which absolutely make me lose my shit and leave me groveling in the dirt begging to be worthy. Huntress (who have a new album dropping soon too!), Unleash the Archers and of course A Sound of Thunder. My holy trinity of metal goddesses is complete. These three bands make metal feel young and fresh again for this ancient metal greybeard.

“Time’s Arrow” was everything that I hoped it would be. Once again the production is bright, punchy and flawless. Nina’s voice is so damn powerful it makes me insane. Seriously, this woman has a killer voice that just drips liquid metal. Anyone that misses out on this album is a damn fool.

On “Out of the Darkness” the band had a track featuring guest vocals by John Gallagher of Raven. This time around the band has a track called “My Disease” which features vocals from Blaze Bayley. How cool is that? I never liked the Maiden albums with Blaze, but I did like his previous band, Wolfsbane.

Anyway, I highly recommend checking out “Time’s Arrow.” Here’s a little something to get you started. This is the track “I Will Not Break.” Check it out.

Tristania – Darkest White

Tristania is a gothic/death/symphonic metal band from Norway and “Darkest White” is their seventh album.

Tristania was one of the bands from the late 90s that pioneered the whole harsh-male-vocals-with-clean-female-vocals thing. I really enjoyed them back in the day, but to be honest I really haven’t listened to the band much in the last decade or so. I think 2001’s “World of Glass” was the last album I bought. Since then the style has become pretty played out, but let’s see what they’ve got here on “Darkest White.”

Well, this sounds a lot like I remember, though it looks like only one person remains in the band from the time when I used to listen to them. The sound of course has progressed and evolved over the last decade, but the idea seems the same.

As I mentioned above in the review for “Time’s Arrow”, I’m not all that into the symphonic female vocals, so I can take or leave that aspect of Tristania. The gruff male vocals seem fairly dominant, though, so I’m not too put off. There are also Tiamat-like clean male vocals.

The instrumental aspects of the album are quite pleasing. These songs are heavy yet melodic, technical but not boring. I find myself enjoying “Darkest White” a lot more than I thought I would. I’m going to have to take some time to give this album some repeat listens and see where it takes me. In the meantime, I recommend giving “Darkest White” a listen. Check out the title track below.

ASG – Blood Drive

griglia

ASG is a retro/stoner metal band from North Carolina and “Blood Drive” is their fifth album.

I was pretty surprised when I saw ASG had a new album coming out. I got into these guys a number of years ago and thought they must have broken up because I hadn’t heard anything from the band since 2007. I’m glad to see the rumors of their demise were premature.

I haven’t listened to ASG in a few years, and I probably should have listened to some of the older stuff before trying to write this review, but I’ve had little time lately to write reviews, let alone prep ahead of time, so I can’t say with certainty how close “Blood Drive” resembles their previous work.

I can say that I still like what they are doing, so I’m guessing the sound is pretty close to what it once was. The music has lots of cool guitar playing and riffing ala doom/stoner metal. These songs are a little too bright and happy sounding to warrant a doom label, though. The vocals are clean and melodic, but not so much so that they are annoying in a commercial sort of way.

I really enjoyed listening to “Blood Drive” and am already planning to go back through and give it another spin once I finish today’s reviews. I am very happy to find ASG (which stands for All Systems Go btw) are still alive and kicking. These guys predate the current crop of retro metal acts and could probably show the Johnny-come-lately bands a thing or two.

Check out the track “Day’s Work” below.