May 30, 2020

The first three tracks are faultless metal classics. They represent an amazing leap forward by the band.

This band tags itself as ‘Epic Doom Metal’ but if you are not keen on doom metal then PLEASE do keep reading! This Florida-based band’s 2018 eponymously titled second album introduced keyboards, softening their Candlemass-influenced roots, and that direction has continued and matured on this album which has a more rounded metal feel that will definitely appeal to a much wider audience. The band itself is officially a trio – Zach Randall on guitars, Leona Hayward on bass, and Frank Serafine on vocals. For the recording of this album, drums were supplied by Dan Konopka and the guitar solos are courtesy of Evan Hensley (Nightfall, Karmic Link).

Leprosarium opens the album with a compelling guitar riff which sounds a little like a slower version of Avatarium’s Girl In The Raven Mask. There’s a retro/psychedelic feel to the sound, again bringing Avatarium to mind. It’s a great album opener. Next up is The Last Snowfall which brings someone else called Hensley to mind – this time Ken Hensley – because the swirling organ opening followed by thumping guitar chords (accompanied throughout the song by the organ) is pure Uriah Heep. It’s almost a modern-day version of Heep’s Gypsy. The song is developed brilliantly with excellent synth and guitar solos, and just like the Heep song it has a very simple riff but it leaves you begging for more after its 7 minutes duration. Then comes the surprise contrast of A Vivid Monochrome with its opening of delicate piano tinkling that accompanies a gorgeous melody. The song builds up to a climax (with another fine solo by Evan Hensley) which is one of many moments that justify the ‘epic’ tag of the band. That epic dimension is also supported by Serafine’s vocals: he has a tremendously powerful voice, a more gravelly version of Dio perhaps, that is perfectly suited for the music.

Frank Serafine, Zach Randall and Leona Hayward……all looking a little pallid

Those first three tracks are faultless metal classics. They represent an amazing leap forward by the band. I was licking my lips going into the remaining two nine-minute tracks on the album, but I have to confess that I felt a little let down. 8 Hours has a good chugging riff with organ twirls for adornment, and a fine soulful solo from Hensley at the six minute mark, but the material lacks originality and seems to be more of a throwback to their doom roots.  The closing track, Observing, is more interesting, in particular the irresistible groove in the faster vocal sections. Don’t get me wrong: 8 Hours and Observing are two good songs but they just don’t reach the heights of the opening three tracks. Overall though, this is a superb album and one I would encourage you to seek out.

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