Science fiction, fantasy, sword and sorcery, and metaphysics have been the inspiration and fodder for many heavy metal bands and their songs. Often these things are wrapped up in a single medium, comic books (or graphic novels, for the high brow geek). All this explains why many heavy metal musicians have standing reservations for Comic-Con. Not the least of whom is Josh Schwartz, founder, composer, and guitarist for DC heavy metal band A Sound Of Thunder. If recollection serves, he works part-time in a comic store.
Schwartz and the ASoT gang turn to the comic for the inspiration for their fifth album, Tales From The Deadside. As they refer to it, music inspired by Shadowman, a comic book series familiar to many. But not me. Honestly, I know nothing about it. Nevertheless, if you're a reader and fan of the series and heavy metal, this album is the perfect storm for you.
The real question is that come to the forefront is, does this concept, both music and lyrics, reflect accurately, by interpretation, the story, characters, drama, and emotion of Shadowman. Again, I can't tell you as I haven't read the comics. The album does offer significant narration across the album which, I suspect, explains the story. (A lyric book would be handy, but you hardly ever get one with an EPK). Now, this infers that you should do something proactive. You need to pay attention to what you hear and, again, I suspect it will add to your listening enjoyment. Me, I generally listen to the tunes; narration kind of blows past me. Frankly, as much as I enjoy thoughtful and less than obtuse lyrics, most times in heavy metal you can't understand them (which can be a good thing with some metal bands).
While I can't speak to the Shadowman angle, I can speak to the music within. Bottom line, this is some premium and classic American heavy metal. Frankly, musically, with five albums under their collective studded belts, this is the best ASoT album to date. Like usual, it's the perfect blend of melodic, heavy and power metal. In ASoT's case, just squared. Melody and harmony is abundant. The rhythm section bold and tight. And Schwartz is on fire with his guitar work, some of the best riffs and leads you'll hear this side of the Atlantic for classic metal guitar.
Vocalist Nina Osegueda also does not disappoint, still powerful and soaring. On the positive side, she gains some more dialed back and softer moments, as with Sandria or Alyssa, which displays her smoothness and clarity. Alternatively, like the rest of their albums and music, most often she's required to go screamo with the metal, whether by arrangement or necessity (to keep up and above). Then she becomes difficult to understand and, often, the screamo gets consuming and so tiring at times.,/
This is another reason why I fall back on grooving to the music of the tunes. And while this all first class melodic heavy metal, a mention should be made of at least one song. That song is Punk Mambo, gotta love the title. And you've got to love the saxophone within, giving the metal a jazzy feel starting about the midpoint. Good stuff. Hey, it's all good. With the concept album, Tales From The Deadside, A Sound Of Thunder has outdone themselves, even raised the bar for themselves. Where will they go from here? I wonder. Easily recommended.
With the concept album, Tales From The Deadside, A Sound Of Thunder has outdone themselves, even raised the bar for themselves. Where will they go from here? I wonder. Easily recommended.
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