A Sound Of Thunder – Time’s Arrow
A Sound Of Thunder
Reviewed by Kylie McInnes
For all of those who follow my reviews (ok, both of you…), you know I have a major hankering for thrash and speed metal. Little do you know that I also have a penchant for good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll. After hearing “The Night Witch” during intermissions at ProgPower USA XIII, I figured I’d give a female-fronted badass rock troupe a closer look (because, based on their name alone, I would have instantly dismissed them as some crappy metalcore schlock). It was certainly well worth the listen.
One year and one album later, “Power Play” starts things off with some subtle nods to Motörhead. Fast, upbeat rock abounds with some great bass work under the riffing. Vocalist Nina Osegueda isn’t just some kind of “Skylark” eye/ear candy; she kicks some major vocal ass here. If you’re looking for some waifish mezzo-soprano Euro flower metal female-fronted band, you might want to continue your search.
“Time’s Arrow” follows up with some galloping goodness, but at almost 10 minutes in length, really drags on too long. This is a pretty common theme on this album. Time flies like an arrow, but Time’s Arrow flies like a…fly? (sorry, I ran out of joke); it can trot, gallop, and dash, but spends a lot of time circling around waiting for the perfect moment to land, and this really drags out the album. Six songs over six minutes in duration for a proggy band isn’t out of the ordinary, but when you’re making straightforward rock/metal, the general idea is to consolidate ideas and maybe have that six minute ballad or “That One Epic Song That Everyone Gets Their Lighters Out For.” (Also, umm, putting the exploratory 10 minute epic at track #2? It feels weird and makes for a bit of an anti-climax).
It’s not like there are any bad ideas here, but I just feel like there’s an extra 10 minutes shoehorned into this album, spread throughout most of the songs. “I Will Not Break” is a bit too “aggro rock” for my tastes, but I love the bridge. “Broken Bridge” is more solid rock, leading in to “Queen Of Hell,” my favorite on the album (Nina’s vocals here slammed me to the floor). This is how to do traditional metal, my friends. This is the one longer track that manages to hold my attention through the whole thing (and the bridge/solo section chugfest is very well done, unlike many chugfests which have failed before). Hail, queen of hell!
“Let’s Start A Fire” is the last of the “brief” songs, and is more solid heavy metal. The rest of the album tends to go off on a bit of a kinda-boring streak (this is the over-long section of the album I was talking about earlier). “End Of The Road” is far too bluesy for my liking on a metal album (blues is good, but this would be like throwing “Eagle Fly Free” into a doom metal set), and “My Disease” with Blaze Bayley isn’t bad, but it does seem a little odd to have Blaze Bayley as a guest artist. Personally, I think Blaze is a criminally underrated vocalist whose solo work should totally vindicate anything he might have done in Iron Maiden (his performances were great, mind you), but this is like “I just got my dream car: a Toyota Corolla!” “Our album features a polarizing figure who has been trashed in the community for years!” seems like an odd selling point (although this is better than pretty much anything on King Of Metal…and here I am, trying to defend Blaze…). Good song, but again, too drawn-out.
“Wastelands” is the best song on the second half of the album, even if the clean guitar solo is far too random for its own good. Yes, Josh Schwartz shows himself to be a highly competent and proficient guitarist, but this is a (and I hate to say it, being a total guitar junkie) vocally-driven album. Or, it should be. That’s about the only fault I can find here – that there isn’t quite enough musical variation (especially with only one guitarist) to warrant a lot of the instrumental parts when your vocalist is just that damn good.
“Reign Of The Hawklords” closes things out with a little bit of a thud (“Wastelands” or the title track would be more suitable for the grand finale), being a bit too generic and with a few vapid spots that drag on for a few measures too many.
Other than a few arrangement issues, this is a very good album. There certainly isn’t anything worthy of harsh criticism outside of a few lulls where there just isn’t anything going on. It’s certainly enjoyable and features an absolutely phenomenal frontwoman.
3.5 // 5