Label : Nightmare Records

Review by Alessandro Narcissus

American heavy metallers A Sound of Thunder are a young yet fast growing act. Fronted by powerful and charismatic lead singer Nina Osegueda, this Washington D.C.-based quartet has released three records – an EP, a non-album charity single and its first full-length – between 2009 and 2011, and shows no signs of slowing down. A Sound of Thunder‘s challenge this year is to confirm the positive impression they’ve given with their critically acclaimed debut album “Metal Renaissance”, which they accepted releasing their sophomore album, “Out of the Darkness”. Will they overcome it? Well, first of all let’s state this clear: in a crowded scene such as that of female-fronted metal, the only means to survive is a strong identity. With this record, A Sound of Thunder proved to have their own with a well balanced, captivating blend of different elements that, by drawing from a wide range of genres, creates a unique, unmistakable sound. We can basically define this recording a power metal-influenced hard rock album which enriches its hues with progressive digressions, gothic touches (used in a very classy, non-clichéd way), even going as far as getting jazzy or slightly folkish at times, including some virtuosity every now and then which, for a change, really fit the songs rather than being pretentious. Moreover, all the instruments, supported by the crystal-clear production of Kevin “131” Gutierrez, are perfectly balanced and each of them gets the right recognition: Nina Osegueda‘s powerful, versatile vocals become a fitting completion to the other instruments rather than dominating them; Jesse Keen‘s keyboards add many different flavours without being overwhelming or drowning the rest; Josh Schwartz‘s guitars are heavy and smacking without sounding pretentious, and even his solos are truly functional to the song structure rather than being thrown in just for the sake of showcasing his ability; finally, the rhythmic patterns provided by Chris Haren‘s drums and Jesse Keen‘s bass provide variation and avoid being boring, but without getting abstruse or hard to follow. The songs are well designed to stand out individually while giving a cohesive yet not flat ensemble, with only a couple of unremarkable episodes. Some of them venture into more progressive territories, while others exploit old formulas by taking and performing them at their best. The opener, “The Day I Die”, is a true killer track that immediately sticks the listener to the record by providing variety and freshness, filling each of its 8 minutes with something worth its length. With its jazzy guitars and soulish keyboards, it’s an immediate statement: this record is not going to sound like the same old stuff. The second track, “The Night Witch”, is a perfect example of old formulas used in a clever way: it opens with a creepy keyboard melody that manages to avoid sounding clichéd despite its music box flavour, which quickly makes room to a catchy hard-rocking tune with a dynamic verse, a really enjoyable and memorable chorus and a praiseworthy guitar solo. The next songs, “Kill That Bitch” and “Murderous Horde”, confirm the high level of this record, the former with a distinctive hard-rocking sound powered by a simple yet interesting rythmic pattern, the latter with haunting backing vocals that make it sound cinematic, but without overdoing. The eponymous “A Sound of Thunder” showcases the band’s power metal influences in a non-garish way, despite the agressive vocals being a bit annoying at times. Unfortunately, the experiment is not equally successful with the title track, “Out of the Darkness”, whose tacky outright power metal structure, which includes pretty much all the most annoying clichés of the genre without anything diverse to dilute them, makes it the least remarkable song of the album. Generally speaking, this song marks the beginning of the second half of the album, which is slightly duller than the previous despite having its memorable episodes. For instance, the clearly gothic-influenced, a bit clichéd intro of the eight-minute long “Calat Alhambra” may seem pointless, but it works perfectly as a cheesy appetizer that lowers the listener’s expectations to surprise him with a complex, enjoyable and outstanding song. Nevertheless, the subsequent “Fight Until the End” is a rather canonical heavy metal anthem which, despite not being bad, does not add any particular value to the record. Although occasionally skimming over cheesiness, the semi-acoustic guitar and cello-driven “This Too Shall Pass” avoids being a random ballad thrown in just to have a slow song in the bunch and manages to sound, all in all, genuine. It also sets the mood for the sophisticated conclusion of the album: the longest track of the set, “Discovery” summarizes the whole album, giving an insight of all the different elements that make this record stand out and going down smooth despite its length. Besides the technical skills of the musicians, the real strength of this album is a solid songwriting that blends a whole host of influences, something that’s further emphasized by the fact that the only missteps in the album are those two songs that cling to a particular genre without providing variety. “Out of the Darkness” is a rich kaleidoscope that manages to add flavour to classic hard rock and heavy metal, bring some freshness to gothic and power metal elements and present progressive metal in an easily listenable fashion. It’s designed to satisfy fans of many different genres without scaring them with unfamiliar elements, but does so in a genuine, non-calculated way which, together with the uniqueness A Sound of Thunder proved to have, is the only true strength a band can rely on today.

Rating – 80/100

 

Tracklist

  1. The Day I Die
  2. The Night Witch
  3. Kill That Bitch
  4. Murderous Horde
  5. A Sound of Thunder
  6. Out of the Darkness
  7. Calat Alhambra
  8. Fight Until the End
  9. This Too Shall Pass
  10. Discovery

 

Line Up

  • Nina Osegueda – Vocals
  • Josh Schwartz – Guitars
  • Jesse Keen – Bass, Keyboards
  • Chris Haren – Drums

 

Links

MySpace * ReverbNation * Facebook * Twitter * Site

Please follow and like us:
error1
fb-share-icon0
Tweet 20
fb-share-icon20