Nomans Land – Last Crusade
Viking metal has always been a double edged sword for me. Honestly I am a big fan of the trope, but of course a lot of bands tie it in with a more extreme or blackened edge to it that as far as I am concerned causes it to lose a bit of steam. Interestingly enough though as much as I enjoy power metal, if it toes that line too closely I am similar put off by its cheesiness. Russia’s Nomans Land have done a great job of shooting the gab in between, bringing a true folksy feel to the Vikingdom. The vocals are fairly clean for the most part and the songs are very well written with some excellent production overlaid on top of it which really helps as well. A few of the tracks don’t really leap out as well as others do however, but for the majority of the album it keeps the listener engaged, which is a very good thing. These guys have been around the block a few times and they really show it with the songwriting aspects. Overall a pretty good album, maybe not their best effort but nothing too shabby either. Now where did I put my axe???
Choice Tracks – Dragons, Right To Luck, Last Crusade, Strain At The Oars
Band Name: Distant Sun
Title: Dark Matter
Date of Release: May 2015
Record Label: Metalism Records
Track listings: 1. Prophet Of The Mean 2. Kill The Fremen 3. Dark Matter 4. Dark Matter 5. Matrix Hacked 6. Shattered Empire 7. Gifts Of Journey 8. Apocalypto 9. Healer Of Souls 10. Zero To Hero
Established in 2011 Distant Sun is made up of Alexey Markov - guitar/vocals, Artem Molodtsov - bass/guitars and Erland Sivolapov - Drums. In case you hadn't guessed by the quality of the members names, they do indeed hail from Mother Russia, claiming Moscow as their home town. They are not to be confused with the Irish indie rock band of the same name.
Upon first listening to the album I was struck immediately by the heavy thrash tinged by modern metal sound the band has. Wait....no I was struck by the efficient power metal format they obviously enjoy. Uhhhhhh...hold on, here is a bardic ballad that would make Blind Guardian sit up and take notice.....wait we're back to thrash...sort of...maybe.
Here in lies the issue with Distant Sun, they are either brilliantly combining songs in completely different genres of metal in order to tell a story arc in a complex and interesting way within a concept album, or they have an identity issue and haven't found their direction yet. After spending some time on the web trying to ascertain if the album is indeed a concept album, and if it is I suspect it revolves around the classic Frank Herbert Dune story, I came up with nothing. I was unable to find a main website, and the facebook is not overly helpful. So lets just assume they are brilliant.
Assuming that they are brilliant would not be unfair, as they are all very talented musicians, with technical and emotive skill. Plenty of windmill inducing neck wrecking riffs await you within this album. Also fist pumping power anthems, and the aformentioned traditional ballad complete with bardic vocalization, all in all a varied and interesting listen if you are willing to take the disjointed ride.
Vocally the album leaves a bit to be desired. It is obvious that Alexey has more range and ability than is evident on this album. There are hints at the ability to crank out some high notes and to add additional dynamics and power to his performance. However he seems to concentrate on keeping a certain gruffness in his voice, which prevents him from putting more power behind his note choices especially in the lower range. His note choices tend to all gather in the downward direction and thus become somewhat predictable. Adding a few more tools to his kit, such as increased breath control, would give the songs more power and make these songs truly amazing.
The album contains no truly weak songs, although with the disjointed directions of the individual tunes it is hard to say that there is a standout song, the quality is good across the board. I will definitely be interested in hearing more from Distant Sun, and look forward to seeing if this combining of genres is truly what they intend to be their trademark!
\m/ 7.5 \m/
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