Desert Sin – Destination Paradise
I’m sure most people are enjoying their winter holidays right around now, and I’ll soon be doing the same, with a busy couple weeks of celebrating Christmas and New Year’s with my family (and extended family). But in the meantime I have been given a glimpse into the very near future, with this second full length album from Austria’s Desert Sin, titled Destination Paradise, scheduled for release on January 20 2012, making this the first album I hear from the upcoming year. So does the future look bright, or are we better off waiting to see if the world will in fact end next year?
Well, based on Destination Paradise, I’d say we can likely expect another great year for music. So, even if it does end up being our last, at least it should be worth it. But anyway, the album can be described as some very melodic heavy metal with quite the German power metal flavor to it at points, plus some hints of progressive metal. It certainly isn’t the type of generic and boring heavy metal I’ll often complain about, that’s for sure. The important thing is, while the band does sometimes borrow elements of other, much older bands, they don’t stay stuck in the past. Instead, they busy themselves creating something fresh and new that just happens to remember what came before. There are plenty of memorable riffs throughout, nice melodies, and some very catchy choruses. Most importantly, the songs always manage to stay fresh, and the music never slows down too much (no ballads), or loses any momentum. That last part alone will probably catch the attention of the average metalhead!
The album opens with a brief intro track, which features some nice guitar work that leads into the intense opening riff of the title track before keyboards and vocals kick in to get things moving along. The chorus here is a good indication of what to expect, very catchy! The German flavor that I mentioned can be most clearly heard on the following song, “Kill The King”, with a main riff that easily could have been borrowed from Gamma Ray. Though again, things change up quickly enough, so by the end it sounds like something totally new.
At this point, I’ll mention the vocals. Sandro Holzer is rather versatile in that his voice is naturally rather gruff and he’ll often use it for some aggressive grunts (as heard right at the start of “Kill The King”), but he can also sing very softly to enhance the melody of the music. During choruses, he’ll often blend the two voices together, with the softer voices doing the leads and the gruff screams in the background. This is pretty cool sounding, and enhances the band quite a bit. Actually, he is pretty much exactly what the band needs, since the band mixes heavy and melodic sections. Having someone who changes his voice to match the music is an obvious advantage. Sandro does so effortlessly, and often within the same sentence. I said all of this to point out that the aforementioned “Kill The King” shows off everything I just talked about, and yet it isn’t even one of the highlights!
Speaking of highlights, “Would You Release Me” has some very intense sounding drums during the verses before the keyboards take over during a calm and relaxing chorus, which happens to be my favorite on the album. There is also a nice solo section, which brings in some of the progressive influences I mentioned. “Follow Me” continues this, with its very offbeat rhythms (once again, this drummer is excellent!) and constant tempo changes, even during the chorus. These two songs are probably my favorites, though if not for one flaw “Creation” would be right up there with them. Unfortunately, the chorus has some rather bothersome lyrics, which really drag the song down for me: “What if God was a world creation, image of what we are? Would he offer us salvation, would he even care at all?”. These certainly aren’t as bad as some bands can get on the issue, but I simply prefer not to have any religious or anti-religious lyrics in my music. as I listen to music to be entertained, not to be preached at. Also, this gets repeated constantly near the end, so I was pretty annoyed by the time the song finished. And that was just the first time through!
The second half of the album in general isn’t quite as strong as the first half. Songs like the rather Iron Maiden influenced “In Silence” (guitar tone is quite similar, plus the bass is much more audible than usual) and “Hero” are good, but not on the level of some of the others. Probably because they’re more generic heavy metal, I guess. Though at least the latter of these has a great use of the grunts during the chorus. The closing track is more of a progressive power metal song with some offbeat sections early on, and it is another highlight, so at least it stops the second half from being completely disappointing. That, and “Creation” really is an excellent song, aside from the lyrics.
A couple minor complaints aside, this is an album that likely won’t be topping many lists next year, but still offers some excellent melodic heavy metal with enough variety to stay fresh throughout while and keep the listener entertained. Certainly a great first album to hear for what I hope will be another great year for music.
Travis Green’s Rating: 4.0 out of 5
Note: This was obviously written right before the holidays (December 22 if I remember correctly), so if that first paragraph seems weird now, that’s why.