Archive for January, 2013

A Sound Of Thunder – Queen of Hell (EP) – Review

Posted in Album Reviews with tags , , on January 17, 2013 by novametalreview

Well, it has been quite a while since the last entry on the ol’ blog here – not that there hasn’t been lots going on, quite the opposite in fact, but the problem has been finding the time to write something coherent. So, what inspired me to start tapping the keyboard here? Oh, simple; that would be a new release from local favorites A Sound Of Thunder (ASoT to their friends), in the shape of an EP titled “Queen of Hell”.

Scroll back a few reviews and you will find me gushing over the previous ASoT release, “Out of the Darkness” (Nightmare Records) which was truly a coming of age for the band and one that earned worldwide acclaim, with exceptional reviews from all quarters. Add to all the good words the fact that Out of the Darkness (OotD) was listed in many folk’s top 10 albums of 2012 and you will find a band that is on a roll.

Let’s fill a few blanks before I get to the meat’n’potatos here –the release tour for OotD took them through seven states making more friends along the way and later in the year ASoT supported the legendary Raven on a couple of dates taking in Raleigh, NC and Atlanta, GA. I was fortunate enough to travel down to catch the Raleigh gig and that was a wild and very metal night indeed, which had an added bonus in the shape of opening band “Widow”, who are from North Carolina– great band, highly recommended!

However, despite all this going on, ASoT are nothing short of workaholics and continued to write new material at a furious pace; so much so that no sooner were they back from the OotD release tour, they were in the studio working on the next album, which is due for release in the Spring of 2013, titled “Time’s Arrow”. However while this was in full flow, a small roadblock reared its ugly head, money…

Recording is not cheap and without the backing of a flush record label, ASoT were paying this out of their pockets and they found themselves rapidly running out of cash. Fortunately the internet is the new land of opportunity and the band decided to set up a KickStarter fund raising campaign with the aim of raising $8,000 to help finish the project – this was a great success and actually resulted in a total fund of $9,539 from 174 backers. You can check this out here > http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/asoundofthunder/a-sound-of-thunders-new-album-times-arrow?ref=live

As part of this process the band decided to release an EP of additional material, which is what we find ourselves looking at now – “Queen of Hell” – regard it as a preview of “Time’s Arrow” if you like (since it was recorded at the same time as the album). I’m not going to mince my words; Queen of Hell is one massive slice of metal. This release doesn’t rely on hooks, it assaults you with bloody great big enormous anchors, anchors that drag you down into another sonic world that ASoT seem capable of doing so very easily. No bubble gum, throwaway material here; ASoT have a knack of writing songs that get inside your skull and embed themselves and won’t go away. Since receiving the review copy of the EP I must have played it on constant repeat at least 10+ times – it’s still growing on me and it is showing no signs of slacking off.

Opening with the title track, “Queen of Hell”, an atmospheric keyboard intro surrenders to a massed vocal chant, “Hail! Queen of Hell! Hail! Queen of Hell!” which itself merges into a killer buzzsaw guitar riff and massive double kick-drum pounding. Nina Osegueda then completely slices off the top of your skull with a scream that truly could have come from the depths of Hell itself! Mission accomplished and we’re only 53 seconds into the track. This song is already firmly established as a live favorite and the recorded version takes this several steps beyond. Production is again handled by Kevin Gutierrez (Shinedown, While Heaven Wept, Raven) from Assembly Line Studios in Vienna (VA, USA) and what an exceptional job he has done yet again (having previously been the man behind the desk for the previous release, OotD). Consistency is a great thing when something is working this well.

For those familiar with Out of the Darkness, it will come as no surprise that ASoT have yet again found a tale to tell very much in the mould of Alice Cooper meets Lizzy Borden, in the shape of the second track on the EP, “Hello Nurse”. Where “Kill That Bitch” (from OotD) took us on a rather murderously wild ride, “Hello Nurse” puts us inside the romantically obsessed mind of a rather unconventional nurse who seems to want to do rather more than simply assist the doctor. With lines line “Oh, nurse, could you pass me my tool(s)” and  “Doctor do you see me here, I’m severing his leg”, with the sound a chainsaw in the background you’ll get the idea. Throw in a bluesy piano solo that culminates in a play-off between the piano and Josh Schwartz on guitar and you have a slightly unusual combination of a ‘fun’ metal track.

If the previous track wasn’t adventurous enough, how about a Black Sabbath cover? “What!” I hear you exclaim… ASoT make no attempt to hide their classic metal roots with bits of Sabbath, Priest, Dio and Iron Maiden sneaking out every now and then, and trust me I thoroughly applaud and support this – we need more bands who are not afraid to draw on the foundations of this music genre. But here we go one giant step, and a step that ASoT themselves generally steer clear of, and have included a cover of the slightly obscure Sabbath tune, “Trashed” from the “Born Again” album (the one and only Sabbath album to feature Ian Gillan). After playing the original and the ASoT version back to back, I am prepared to state that the ASoT version just about ‘trashes’ the Sabbath version… wow, am I allowed to write that? Is that metal sacrilege? Normally I am not a fan of cover songs, but a few folks recently have pulled it off  – Stryper with The Covering and Testament with the bonus tracks on Dark Roots Of Earth spring to mind – and now we can add ASoT to the list. Excellent stuff.

The EP finishes up with a second version of Queen of Hell featuring Veronica Freeman from Benedictum as a duet with Nina. This is another power trip and really shows how good the song writing underlying the track really is. It’s hard to pick which version I prefer but the pure ASoT opener gets the win by a whisker.

What can I say, this is an exceptionally good release all round – if there is a complaint it would be “I want more!”. So, I’ll have to wait for “Time’s Arrow” to solve that. So what to score this? This is an easy 9/10.

How can you get a copy?

Queen of Hell is available in 3 physical formats as well as digital download:

LIMITED VINYL:

-250 Copies

– 12″ Blood Red Vinyl

– Includes Free Digital Copy

– Includes 4″ Emroidered “Queen’s Guard” Patch

– Exclusive Inner Sleeve Artwork

STANDARD CD:

– Cardboard Sleeve Edition

LIMITED NUMBERED CD:

-25 Hand-Numbered Copies

– Signed by entire band and Veronica Freeman

– Includes 4″ Embroidered “Queen’s Guard” Patch

– Includes Certificate of Authenticity

CD & Vinyl editions can be ordered via the band’s official store:

http://asoundofthunder.bigcartel.com

Digital copies can be ordered at: http://asot.bandcamp.com
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