It seems that Switzerland's Emerald can't stop the spin of the revolving door of personnel changes. Since their last album, 2012's Unleashed they changed vocalists twice, settling now for Mace Mitchell (Silence Lost, Eddies Beast, The New Source), and adding a new second guitarist with Julien Menth (Six-Pack) and bass player in Vania Truttmann. Then there's things you don't know about Emerald, more specifically keyboard player Thomas Vaucher. He's an accomplished novelist writing thrillers and historical fiction. The second half of their latest album, Reckoning Day is based on his historical novel Der Lowe von Burgund, published in 2010.
Despite the recent tribulations, Emerald remains a classic heavy metal band in the "keep it true" tradition. Twin guitar harmonies and leads, a solid and galloping rhythm section, and clean, strong and assertive, metal vocals are the core elements of the Emerald sound. These things are, in turn, wrapped in sufficient melody, harmony, and groove with a touch of synths for orchestration. Yet, of all things, it's the guitar lines, the riffage and leads, that appear to have the greater presence. If, like me, you love lead guitar work, Emerald and Reckoning Day will be a satisfying spin.
Taking some interest in the songs, the first half of the album is pure and classic heavy power metal. There's fierce and racing speed monsters with Evolution In Reverse and Ridden By Fear. Others like Horns Up and Black Pyramid turn more on tempo changes, tempering quickness with moderation. There's also a metal anthem with Beyond Forever, where you get a good taste of vocalist Mace Mitchell's range and control. As for the conceptual second half, The Burgundian Wars, the similar heavy metal musical theme continues. The songs are bookended by musical narration of the story line with Mist Of The Past and Fading History. I'm guessing you'll want the lyric sheet to follow the rest of Vaucher's story. Musically, I found the core songs Reckoning Day, Reign Of Steel, and Signum Dei quite satisfying. Finally, if you get the "limited edition" of Reckoning Day you'll find a bonus track, End Of The World, which was written with interim and Aska vocalist George Call (who also helped write the title track.)
Bottom line: Thanks, in part, to the historical fiction theme in the second half, Emerald's Reckoning Day is an entertaining and ambitious work of traditional "keep it true" heavy metal, and should please fans of the genre. Hopefully, the band line up will remain stable and they'll be back with more. Recommended.
Thanks, in part, to the historical fiction theme in the second half, Emerald's Reckoning Day is an entertaining and ambitious work of traditional "keep it true" heavy metal, and should please fans of the genre. Recommended.
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