posted on 1/2006 By:
Australian Traditional Heavy Metal…with one glaring issue.
When I first saw Permian Dusk in our queue, I was pretty excited to discover what it sounded like. I’d never heard any of their previous material, but I knew the band now featured the vocals of traditional Metal Champion, ‘Lord’ Tim Grose (Dungeon (r.i.p.) and Lord). For anyone who doesn’t know, Tim Grose has been proudly waving the flag of Power Metal and Traditional Heavy Metal in Australia for many years. While other bands morphed their sound to incorporate new trends, Lord Tim and Dungeon remained steadfast by continually offering fans of Traditional Heavy Metal exactly what they were rabid for. Unfortunately for these fans, Dungeon called it quits following their European tour in 2005. Enter Ilium to the stage.
To be fair, Ilium is not actually “Lord Tim’s new band”. They’ve been around under different monikers since the early 90’s, but have always played a similar style of straightforward, melodic Metal. Lord Tim served as producer for their first album, Sirens of The Styx, so once original vocalist Mark Snedden left, he was a natural fit. Sirens of The Styx received some noteworthy acclaim from fans of the genre, so the bar was set high for this, their second full-length release.
That being said, Permian Dusk is missing something. I’ve spun this album countless times over the course of the last few weeks, and it’s always fallen just short of really getting my fist pumping, or my head banging. The root of this problem lies in the drums. Not just how they’re played, but also how they’re recorded (the snare sound on Permian Dusk borders on irritating). I hate to be the dick on the playground pointing his grubby finger at the sloppy shortstop, but that’s the roll I’m playing today. In my opinion, nothing puts the brakes on a Metal album of this genre quicker than monotonous drumming, and Permian Dusk has monotonous drumming. They start off well enough, as the onset of the album (and intro sound bite of the band’s website) bursts out with almost a Ram it Down feel, but the moment is sadly fleeting. It’s almost as if the drummer is playing while balancing a beer on top of his head…extreeeeemely carefully.
This is a huge pisser, because the rest of the elements in Permian Dusk honestly strike true. Long-standing members Jason Hodges and Adam Smith are definitely competent guitarists and show quite a bit of Metal aptitude during songs like “Chloroform Divinity” and “Jaundiced with Fear”. Their fine, melodic style of writing is reminiscent of early Omen, with splashes of a simpler version of Seventh Son of A Seventh Son. Lord Tim is in fine form here as well. His delivery is once again confident, strong, and never misses its mark, very much the same as all his previous work. I also give props to Ilium for the overall packaging of the album. The artwork is like nothing I’ve seen before.
In the end, Ilium’s Permian Dusk is a release that left me feeling frustrated. Not because I think it’s a poor effort, but because I feel the drumming puts a serious leash on the overall enjoyment of the album. If Ilium were to find someone more dynamic to sit behind the kit, they’d definitely be a force to be reckoned with. It’s my understanding they’re already working on a follow up, hopefully they’ll kick my ass with it.
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