Upwards of Endtime
Sadly Never Fore
posted on 7/2006 By:
What’s On Tap: Solid, raw, unforgiving U.S. traditional heavy fuckin’ metal...
It seems like Upwards of Endtime’s latest album has been in my queue for upwards of 100 years, so it’s high time I bang this one out. To give our readers an idea of exactly why I’ve been struggling with this review, allow me take you on a quick trip back to my metal history. You see folks, 20+ years ago when most of my peers were shitting their O.P. shorts over guitar gods like Randy Rhoads and Angus Young, I was busy trying to emulate Di'Anno, Dickinson, Halford and Arch. In other words, a band was basically made or tossed based on the pipes and presence of their vocalist, which I suppose makes me a bit of a vocal snob. My phonetic snootery has shadowed me even to this day, especially when it comes to bands revisiting classic, traditional metal. Ok, anyone with two brain cells firing can probably see where I’m going with this, which means I’m gonna play the part of a sore asshole in a minute…
Upwards of Endtime play a solid version of classic, traditional metal akin to bands such as Angel Witch, Brocas Helm, Cirith Ungol or very early Manowar. Sadly Never Fore has a beautifully raw, unforgiving sound and is loaded with catchy riffs, ripping leads, bubbling bass lines, and rollicking, rolling drums from point A to point B. The record smatters in a variety of styles to help keep things varied and interesting as well. Faster cuts such as opener, “Beyond Infinity”, and later tunes such as, “Dreamachine”, “The Beast”, and “The Great Goat God”, mix in a touch of scrappy punk, giving them a ‘tear the fucking walls down’ feel that brings to mind early material from Chicago street-metal kings, Zoetrope, while more plodding cuts such as the morose “Princeps Teneharum”, and the gloomy, organ-soaked funeral drape of “The Gathering” deliver doom-tipped arrows into the melee as well. The bulk of the record, however, falls within a nice, galloping, mid-paced traditional metal attack. Songs like “So Mote It Be”, “The One Thing”, and “Defenders”, all feature solid, catchy song-crafting, woven together by some damned fine shredding lead guitar work. The record’s biggest surprise hits with the incredible closer, “Time Again”, a tune that features truly one of the most infectious guitar licks I’ve heard from a metal album this year.
Now it’s time to don the asshole hat. Sadly Never Fore makes vast improvements (both musically and production-wise) compared to the band’s solid debut, but they seem to have taken a step back in the vocal department. Where UoE’s debut mixed the vocals next to the strings and drums and featured a layering style very similar to Ozzy in the early years, Sadly Never Fore pushes Swanson more into the spotlight, allowing him to test his range a bit more…something that’s not such a good idea. His Wino-esque voice isn’t bad, per say, it just lays absolutely flat in a number of instances on this record (especially during slower parts), giving a few songs more of a ‘drunk uncle on stage, belting out a few with his friends at a local bar’ feel, if you catch my drift.
As is the case with a number of underground acts in the genre, Upwards of Endtime is obviously not in this to make money. These guys have a genuine love and appreciation for this style of metal, and despite my view on Swanson’s vocals at times, I honestly believe this is a worthy endeavor for fans of rollicking, raw, old school traditional metal.
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