Release DetailsLABEL Century Media
RELEASED ON 2/19/2002
posted on 3/2002 By:
For the past five years or so I have been slowly, but never completely, growing further away from my liking for power metal. Simply put, I have been so overwhelmed by the consuming effect many of the black and death metal releases have had on me over these past several years. That's not to say that I don't highly respect several power metal bands of both past and present years, but one quick answer would be that my musical tastes have "moved on" just as power metal has "passed on" so to speak. Nonetheless, with some of the genres' top bands like Iced Earth, Blind Guardian and Kamelot, just to name a few, taking a stand and diligently trying to raise this music literally from the dead, my ears have perked up and so has my curiosity (*Personal note: In my opinion Control Denied would have ruled this scene*). Stepping into the picture and making me appreciate one of metal's most notorious sub-genres even more is Onward. Reawaken immediately starts out sounding as traditional as one would expect from a power metal CD. With some strange sounding effects and the drums slowly fading into existence, the guitars (one guitarist actually) and bass come in and throw down old-school riff galore on the album's title track. I don't want to completely dub Onward as an 80's sounding band. But let's face it, if you are gonna sing your songs using touches of "Halfordisms" here and there, it's a common fact that your music will be labeled as old-school. With that being said, Michael Grant has certainly got the talent to be a force to be reckoned with. His choice of vocal melodies for these songs on Reawaken are by far one of this album's highlights, and his lyric writing ability is equally impressive. Nine times out of ten these days you're almost sure to get dungeons, dragons, hobbits or even someone's version of MacBeth done for the 27th time. Grant's lyrics seem very personal and the purity of them is very enjoyable. One complaint I do have in the vocal area is that they're mixed a bit too loudly for my taste. Another production complaint would be the lack of thickness in the guitar sound, but as you read on you'll find the performance comes close to nullifying this minor complaint. Even though the guitar sound is not completely up to par in my book, my other true highlight on this release is the masterful axe attack by Toby Knapp. He is definitely the driving force behind this band both in the forefront and behind the scenes. Being a well schooled guitarist, Toby's complete control of the music department in Onward pays off well for this band. His proficiently executed riffing style involves a plethora of harmonies as well as some very catchy (sometimes cheesy-catchy) rhythm sections. I really enjoy the way he leads into his solo sections. This path into solo heaven usually starts out with a slightly heavy rhythm section only to be followed by 8 bars or so of note by note melody. Then add on top of this another 8 bars or so of another melody doing something totally different and effectively grasping the listener's attention. This slow building process is topped off by a solo that blends well with the music underneath without taking anything away from the lead section's ultimate texture. Reading through the band bio I noticed that some of Toby's older influences include Mayhem and Abigor as he was also involved in a black metal project known as Darken back in 1996. He must not have had a true liking for that style, because it didn't seem like it was too hard for his label manager to talk him into moving towards "a more traditional style". It doesn't matter that I completely disagree with his decision; however, it wasn't mine to make and I'm sure he's enjoying what he's doing. At lease I hope he is. This is not going to be the best power metal album you have ever heard, and it won't be the worst either. Being a fan of power metal for so many years, I've set my own standard as to what I expect from this style of music. Reawaken falls into the upper tier of my expectations and will get some listening play, at least for a while anyway. I do recommend this album to all fans of this genre, and I also encourage ALL newer metal fans that missed this genre's part in history to take a chance and explore it. It was part of metal way back when and it still is today. Whether you, me or the next guy like it or not, it doesn't look like this sound is gonna go away anytime soon. To me that's not all that bad. Albums this one sits well next to: Iced Earth's Dark Saga and Nevermore's self-titled debut release
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