Self Titled Demo
posted on 4/2006 By:
As any sane reviewer would, I approach demo reviews with a healthy degree of trepidation. Generally my cautiousness pays off when the demo turns out to be prohibitively redundant, poorly performed, ruined by the production, or any combination thereof. First Reign, however, have brightened my day by producing a demo release that doesn’t suffer terribly from any of the typical ailments. While this band is obviously young and haven’t entirely grown into their sound yet, I could see First Reign giving some of the more popular melodic metal acts a serious run for it a few albums down the line.
Now, I rarely have much patience for metal this easily digestible, but this British Columbian troupe have somehow managed to sneak past my defenses. First Reign play a blend of modern technical thrash, Maiden-jocking NWOBHM riffage, a wee smidgen of death metal, and some more traditional rock’n’roll icing in the form of Dallas Erickson’s vocals. This would ordinarily land them in the fun-to-listen-to-but-not-so-substantial Herod/Beyond the Embrace camp, but this particular band manages to exercise a little more control than their obvious parallels. In large part their success relies on tastefulness; where Herod et al lean heavily on addictive choruses and wild, spectacular soloing to carry songs, First Reign turn up the structural complexity and lay off on the technical flair. They’re less insistently catchy upon first listen, but the added depth that comes with the longer and more intricate songs is worth the loss. Erickson’s vocals, similarly, are devoid of flashy power metal wails and punishing growls, but his melodies compensate in class for what his voice lacks in character.
Though the lengthy songs and refusal to recline on a hook generally work in First Reign’s favor, the band sometimes overstay their welcome (“Infirmity,” “Tasting the Rust”). This said, their occasional longwindedness is little price to pay for their surprisingly mature performance. If First Reign can progress and grow measurably over the next several years, they could well be a force to reckon with. Well done, lads.
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