Arctic Flame - Shake the earth 3.5/5

Reviewed: 11-1-13





Tracklist:

1. Man made man
2. Two sides of the bullet
3. Last chance
4. Call in the priest
5. Ride of the headless horseman
6. Hangman's prayer
7. Slaves to the alchemist
8. Run to beat the devil
9. Rain
10. Seasons in the cemetery (Garden of stone)


I was quite honoured to witness the Jersey primeval aggressors Arctic Flame open for Helloween. I willingly purchased their latest effort for 2 reasons... 1: it is cleverly packaged just like a classic gatefold vinyl album, with lyrics, when it is actually a CD. 2: I was quite impressed with their brief but explosive live performance.

I have their other CDs digitally, but I never really took the time to get to know the band. 'Shake the earth' is quite an accomplishment, and well worth seeking out from these madmen and their distributors. Fans of Metal Church, Jag Panzer, older Iced Earth, early Fates Warning, Omen, Exxplorer, Virgin Steele, etc. will all be drawn to what they have to offer.

The CD begins with the punchy "Man made man", with very thought provoking lyrics similar to Lizzy Borden's "Wake up it's time to die". Next is the war song I heard them play live "Two sides of the bullet". Most of the music is written by founding member and drummer Mike Paradine, with a few cuts penned by ex-guitarist Sebastian Garcia. Although, live they debuted 2 new axemen: Jason Perez and Alex Schuster. These steel angles could truly shred, adding more guts and glory to the stage.

Most of the songs are very emotional and quite enjoyable. Michael Clayton-Moore heads the band with a strong directive and a vibrant vocalized persona which fits the music quite well. Embrace the nightmare theatrics of the "Exorcist" inspired "Call in the priest", or The Headless Beast meets Pegazus Hessian cry of the sleepy hallowed "Ride of the headless horseman". Compassion and clemency are evoked with the soliloquoy of the "Hangman's prayer". With a spark of ire, one must rust in peace and endure the golden age saga of the vanquished who become "Slaves to the alchemist". The caustic music and savage message unravel as this cautionary tale binds to the bone.

The unbridled mettle might of the "Last chance" reflects a burning passion, while the mildly commercially driven pace of "Run to beat the devil" brings the hammer down. Clearly the most memorable anthem is the closer "Seasons in the cemetery (Garden of stone)" which could easily be a Trans-Siberian Orchestra style musical piece replete with vibrant poetic imagery. Clearly Rush and Dream Theater served as appetizers for this assuaged message of misery and mystery.

The odd choice of covering the sappy Uriah Heep song "Rain" is a bit misplaced, but I suppose that is the grand leveler's wish. My final declaration is that we should raise our glasses to these lords of the wasteland who really know how to write original material which is never compromised or forced to conform to a kingdom of illusion or a metal milieu overrun by mere pretenders to the throne. All hail these guardians at the gate!



MICHAEL




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