Thursday, April 04, 2013

A Sound of Thunder-Time's Arrow

Mad Neptune Records

I'll apologize to fellow fans right now and right up front. You're going to hate me as A Sound of Thunder's third full-length album, "Time's Arrow", is epic and one of the BEST album's I've heard so far this year. Why would you hate me then? It's simple really as you'll have to wait to hear for yourself how killer this release is! I am so very sorry for that as you will be missing out what is some of Nina Osegueda's finest singing and Josh Schwartz's best guitar solos. A great example of this is on the track "I'll Walk With You". Nina's vocals seem to only get better with each new album and Josh has saved some his best licks for "Time's Arrow" by the sound of things! Of course it's not like drummer Chris Haren (who wrote the lyrics on "Time's Arrow") and bassist Jesse Keen don't get their chances to show off. In fact, incredible as this might sound, bassist Jesse Keen get's his first ever bass solo on "My Disease" and man, does he ever make the best of it! Why it's taken them this long to showcase his mad skills is a mystery to me. Anyway, while "My Disease", which features current Wolfsbane/ former Iron Maiden front-man Blaze Bayley doing a duet with Nina, might be one of the album's heaviest moments (it most certainly shows off the influence that Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden had on both artists careers respectfully) it's actually some of the album's more adventurous material I truly appreciated. "Reign of the Hawklords", the band's tribute to the one and only Hawkwind (for you young kids that Lemmy's old band), was available as a early download for those who ordered the "Queen of Hell" EP and is equally different and deliciously dangerous. Meanwhile you've got the bluesy "End of the Road" which seems to be more in tune with classic rock then classic metal. Both work and show that band's do not need to have cookie-cuter songs that all sound alike to be good. Of course record labels couldn't seem to grasp that (their loss!) so the band formed Mad Neptune Records to release their music their way. Of course the result speaks for itself! With this more "adventurous" metal does that mean the band has abandoned their roots? In short: HELL NO! "Broken Bridge" is traditional heavy metal in nature while "Wastelands", which pushes Nina's voice to extremes, flirts with American power metal. Again, these tracks showcase a band that has grown strong and more confident in their abilities. If they were not so well-versed in their craft it's doubtful they could pull off the nearly 10-minute title cut as well as they do. "Time's Arrow" (the song) actually began life back in 2008 as a home demo recording. Guitarist Schwartz would have to wait until all of the pieces were in order though before the band could undertake the songs dynamic and complex structure. It's not the only number that pulls out the Deep Purple card (see "Wastelands"), but it's the best example of how a band can take their influences, whether they be Black Sabbath/Iron Maiden or Deep Purple/Rush as in the case of A Sound of Thunder, and turn them into something compelling and unique. With it's multiple change-ups it's an epic number sure to please your discriminating progressive metal friends! Really though there is something here for everyone metal-wise and yet it all still sounds like A Sound of Thunder. While the album is not due out until June 4th (North America) the band will be releasing the single "I Will Not Break" in April to help tide fans over. "I Will Not Break" (which is loud, proud and in your face!) is what Halestorm would sound like if they were a true metal band. At a little under 4 minutes it's one of the album's shorter songs, but that allows the band to come in, make their point that this is how radio metal should sound like, and get out! If there's justice (doubtful) "I Will Not Break" would only serve to break this band into the mainstream. For now though their message will have to reach new listeners one metalhead at a time. Maybe it's better that way anyhow as A Sound of Thunder care more about their fans then fame. There are not a lot of groups you can say that about sadly. Anyway, the album is currently available for pre-order as both a standard edition (nice) and deluxe limited box set (VERY nice!) at the band's official store. While it might still be early in the year, and since there are a lot of good albums that are supposed to be coming down the line, I can guarantee you that "Time's Arrow" will make my best-of list for 2013! From the second that "Time's Arrow" kicks down the front door with the superb speed metal onslaught that is "Power Play" (a killer opener if ever there was one!) until it closes things up with the unique "Reign of the Hawklords" (you have to hear it for yourself to appreciate it's quirky nature!) the band never gives you reason to pause. Truly each track brings something different to the table which makes this album a sensational listen and a must-own. Highly recommended!

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