Friday, September 25, 2015

Review - "Tales From The Deadside" A Sound of Thunder (Mad Neptune 2015)

"A narcotic stew of vocal pyrotechnics, massive melodies and a haunting storyline combine to intoxicate and invigorate. A righteous way to binge on metal"

That's right on September 25th A Sound of Thunder  unleashed their fifth full length album on an unsuspecting metal public. Yep I said album, this puppy is available on blessed vinyl too.

Although the last few albums had some type of storyline to them this is their first true concept album and it's based upon Valiant Entertainment's "Shadowman" comic series. Now I've never been a huge fan of the concept album, an exception being made for Rush's 2112, but this one definitely has my ear. I'm not sure how they managed to pull off being epic and approachable at the same time but damn they have certainly served up something tasty once again.

Let's dig in to "Tales From The Deadside"

The opener is "Children of The Dark" a sprawling 7+ minute song. Although it starts slow at about 1:24 Josh's guitar starts a nice hypnotic groove that just grabs you followed closely behind by some powerful double track vocals from Nina. This track some stellar interplay between the guitar and drums in an almost call and response fashion. It clearly shows the level of fun that Josh and drummer Chris Haren had in making this. Also of note is some tasty bass lines from Jesse Keen. Toss in the prog break a little past the four minute mark and this one's a home run. 

"Sandria" is up next. Initially i thought this was going to be a straight up rocker. It starts off with a killer riff complete with classic Iommi style trills but it transitions to an almost avant garde freeform jazz deal. Kudos to Nina for being able to roll over the top of it with a solid melody line. That's followed by the solid rocker I was initially expecting. But the bridge reminded me a bit too much of White Wedding but maybe that's just me. Either way this one is still a thumbs up.

Whoa jazz organ warning on track three. Someone has broken out the Hammond. Not to worry it's all very tasteful. All in all this is a great tune and the guitar solo has a really cool classic almost Blackmore vibe to it. I realize that Hammond plus Blackmore equals Purple but I assure this track is far from Purple. How many times can i praise the vocals? Dunno but here I go again. Nina does a fantastic job on this one. If it was shorter "Can't Go Back" might be a great radio single…if radio had any taste.

Okay track four "Deadside" had me worried. It had a bit too much Doors flavor (ala The End) but by about the three minute mark this thing was sickly hypnotic. Nina and the boys have fed the Lizard King his own balls. As slow as this one starts by the end it's a runaway freight train. Hello big labels have you actually listened to this band? It slays all the pablum you push out. Simply Awesome.  

Track five "Tower of Souls", REALLY!!! I've run out of adjectives. From the first note this one grabs you. How many songs can do that with a narrator talking? Cannot stop listening to this track and you won't be able to either.

"Losing Control" is a real sleeper track. It's one of those tracks that slowly grows on you and it took me a few runs but I figured it out. It's the bass. Jesse has done a superb job on the bass work for this track and Kevin Gutierrez has masterfully mixed it such that rather than be blatant it's insidious in it's infection of your ear holes. Amazing stuff. Nice classic seventies inspired harmony solo from Josh on this one too.

Every ASOT release is not complete without the "Nina" song. Punk Mambo is that song. If King Diamond formed a punk band this would be their first single. Oh yeah cool jazz sax break anyone? Yeah it's in there.

I'm not gonna name names but I know that someone in ASOT does like country and track 8 Alyssa definitely has that kinda vibe. I honestly think it could be successfully played on a modern country station. I'm not a country fan but I'll admit it's a well crafted song and it's a nice showcase for yet another facet of Nina's abilities. I don't think we'll ver stop discovering what that woman can do with her voice.

Of we could ever have the privilege of hearing the almighty Dio sing a ASOT song I would pick track 9 "Tremble". Scenario number two would be to have Nina, Veronica Freeman and Leather Leone share vocal duties on this one. Ladies please make this small metal dream come true. Alright back to reality. If had to play just one track off the album to convince someone to buy it THIS is the track. Tower of Souls is a close second but this my friends is five minutes of pure blissful metal majesty.

This band really knows what it's doing. Concept discs can be a sequencing nightmare with sometimes less than stellar transitions but the closing track "End of Times" picks right up from Tremble and loses none of the power and majesty of the prior track. Although it's got many movements in it's seven minutes it's a great closer and clearly leaves you wanting more.

So how do I sum this up? Well the first thing I'll say is that A Sound of Thunder has shown they are fearless in their approach to writing. They don't follow trends they follow their instincts and the results are phenomenal. For me I've had the pleasure of living with an album that has nine tracks that earn such high marks that even the one country tinged track can't spoil it. Proof of that is that although I could hit skip I just keep it rolling.

If you haven't already figured it out…GO BUY  THIS!!! I know I know it's a concept album but it's not one of those tedious concept deals. This makes you feel alive even while being sucked into the Deadside. And you better hurry because I can assure that A Sound of Thunder is already brewing up another batch of insanely infectious music to steal your soul.

Nina Osegueda - vocals
Josh Schwartz - guitars/keys
Jesse Keen - guitars/keys
Chris Haren - drums

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