Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Sound of Thunder-Queen of Hell EP


My first exposure to U.S. metal act A Sound Of Thunder came courtesy of  "Out Of The Darkness", the band's second full-length album. Since "Out Of The Darkness" made my best-off list for 2012 it's safe to say the album had an impact on me. The truth is it inspired me enough to want to help out the band with their Kickstarter campaign to fund 2013's forthcoming "Time's Arrow" release. This four-track EP serves as a preview of things to come from A Sound Of Thunder. It's also a sign that the band is getting better with each new release. Up front I'm just going to say it: this EP is an instant classic. If  "Time's Arrow" carries the same high-level of energy (and since tracking for both albums took place at the same time there's no reason to think otherwise) it's going to be one hell of a year to be a heavy metal fan! As far as heavy metal releases is concerned this EP alone is golden. "Time's Arrow" is one of 2013's album I'm stoked to hear! That said let's get back to the forceful impact this EP should have on the heavy metal community right now. If you could give only one selling point for the "Queen of Hell" EP it would have to be the vocals of Nina Osegueda. Nina's been described as "the love child of Rob Halford and Bruce Dickinson...", but even that description fails to fully describe just how good she is. The opening title cut might show of her power, but it's "Hello Nurse" that really shows the full range of Nina Osegueda. This oddly fascinating (and yet extremely cool) number has a charm all it's own as it casually strolls about in the garden of Alice Cooper's mind. As the song opens with American-style power metal  you can't help but get a strong sense of fellow U.S. metal act Lizzy Borden's potential influence. That's of course before "Hello Nurse" turns into a classic rock number accented with a Billy Joel-like piano solo! It's a startling twist that shows how A Sound Of Thunder are not afraid to take risks with their music. Here the risk pays off in a big way as "Hello Nurse" is a fun and memorable number that will stick around in your heard long after the song's over. Now, as the band wanted the same producer and studio that they used for "Out of the Darkness",  Kevin '131' Gutierrez (Shinedown, While Heaven Wept, Raven) was once again enlisted and production took place again at Assembly Line Studios in Vienna, Virginia. In regards to that, guitarist Josh SchwartzI said that part of the reason they wanted the same producer and studio was so that they could think of the last album and the new material as their own version of "Blizzard of Ozz" and "Diary of a Madman" (as the guitarist rightly points out about the two albums "...they go hand in hand,"-not only chronologically, but vibe-wise). Speaking of all things Ozzy, while guitarist Schwartz was working with Kevin Gutierrez again the pair bounded over their shared appreciation for the Black Sabbath album "Born Again". That would lead to the EP's one cover track. While A Sound Of Thunder usually shy away from covers (as they would prefer to let their own music doing the talking) "Queen of Hell" features a choice cover of  Black Sabbath's "Born Again" number, "Trashed". With "Trashed" guitarist Josh Schwartz gets a chance to fully showcase his skills. His lead work is insane on "Trashed" just as it is on the EP as a whole. You can't just forget about the rhythm section of Jesse Keen and Chris Haren (bass and drums respectively) though. Not only does this pair offer the perfect background for Nina and Josh to feed off of, but when given the chance to shine both musicians are at the top of their game. All four members of A Sound of Thunder manage to work together in perfect form on "Queen of Hell". As if the title cut (which is a nice slab of American heavy metal), "Trashed" and "Hello Nurse" were not enough reason to love this EP you also get a duet version of "Queen of Hell" that features guest vocals by Benedictum's Veronica Freeman. And hell yeah!, it's every bit as good as you'd expect giving that level of talent. It's cool hearing two of metal's unheralded female vocalists tearing it up together and it's hard to pick one version of the song over the other as both versions are killer. Both vocalists are unjustly left out in the dark when talks turn to the best lead singers in metal (female or not!) which is messed up if you really think about it. Anyway, A Sound of Thunder will be touring behind this EP here in the US in early 2013. That will be followed later on in 2013 by a more extensive tour to promote "Time's Arrow". Among the dates currently scheduled is one with Doro and Sister Sin. Now that is a show I'd love to see! Hopefully their tour includes stops in my part of Ohio (or Ohio in general) . If they play nearby then by all means be sure to catch A Sound of Thunder live. Also, if you love good traditional heavy metal/American power metal then be sure to pick up the "Queen of Hell" EP. Speaking of which, rather then re-type everything I'll just give you the scoop straight from the band as far as what's available.Some items are insanely limited in quantity and sure to be future collector's items so get them while you can!

"Queen of Hell" is available in 3 physical formats as well as digital download:

-250 Copies
- 12" Blood Red Vinyl
- Includes Free Digital Copy
- Includes 4" Emroidered "Queen's Guard" Patch
- Exclusive Inner Sleeve Artwork

- Cardboard Sleeve Edition

-25 Hand-Numbered Copies
- Signed by entire band and Veronica Freeman
- Includes 4" Embroidered "Queen's Guard" Patch
- Includes Certificate of Authenticity

CD & Vinyl editions can be ordered via the band's official store:

Digital copies can be ordered at: http://asot.bandcamp.com

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