A Sound of Thunder - Out of the darkness 4/5

Reviewed: 6-1-12





Tracklist:

1. The day I die
2. The nightwitch
3. Kill that bitch
4. Murderous horde
5. A sound of thunder
6. Out of the darkness
7. Calat Alhambra
8. Fight until the end
9. This too shall pass
10. Discovery


Right off the bat, pay no mind to the misleading CD cover, which had me thinking “noodly self-indulgent prog” all the way. This offering from Virginia’s A Sound of Thunder is nothing of the sort. ‘Out of the darkness’ is steeped in traditional metal goodness from start to finish, with a generous dose of European anthemic power metal added to the recipe. A Sound of Thunder have become a cornerstone of the D.C. metal scene, seemingly seizing the mantle of “Jaxx House Band” from long-running stalwarts Division in recent years. (Yeah, yeah, I know the venue’s called Empire now, but it will always be Jaxx in our hearts.) This CD marks my first encounter with the band. Hopefully it will not be my last.

An important detail for many is that A Sound of Thunder is female-fronted, with the versatile and talented Nina Osegueda (any relation to Death Angel’s Mark?) rockin’ the microphone. And Osegueda’s performance is worth the price of admission alone. No delicate songbird here, she’s an old-fashioned, attitude-laden belter who has way more in common with Veronica Freeman (Benedictum), Sabrina Valentine (Seven Kingdoms) or even Pat Benatar than the twiggy operatic types making the rounds in today’s power metal scene. Osegueda’s at her best when she flat-out wails like on the band’s eponymous tune, “A Sound of thunder”, but she can successfully channel a hypnotic, menacing, seething persona in the dragon-themed “Murderous horde” or go soulful on the gentle ballad “This too shall pass”. Fans of powerful female fronted metal will have a field day with ‘Out of the darkness’.

Musically, efforts to pin down A Sound of Thunder are surprisingly elusive. Definitely influenced by seminal works like ‘Heaven and hell’ and ‘Legacy of kings’, these songs nonetheless traverse a pretty broad spectrum within this realm. Dirgy, extended opener “The day I die” is early Sabbath worship like Mourn or a foot-off-the-gas Christian Mistress, but with a couple of curveballs in the arrangement. “Kill that bitch” is pure tongue-in-cheek camp a la some of Dream Evil’s goofier moments. (Imagine a cross between Halestorm’s “Love bites (and so do I)” and Hysterica’s “Heavy metal man”.) “Out of the darkness” is an unapologetic, exhilarating high-speed blast of 80s metal that could have been on Raven’s ‘All for one’ CD. (How fitting, then, that Raven’s John Gallagher pops in for a riveting duet with Osegueda on this one.) “Calat Alhambra,” with its historical Spanish lyrics, epic bent, and flamenco flourish, had me thinking of bands like Twilight Odyssey and Phoenix Reign. And “Fight until the end” feels like Hammerfall, with its marching cadence, Acceptish tinge and uplifting chorus (“Bare your fists / challenge fate / Fight until the end”).

Although ‘Out of the darkness’ is an independent release, fear not. It sounds like a million bucks, thanks to the sterling production of Kevin Gutierrez. No low-budget tin-can sound here. And Lance King’s Nightmare Records label is distributing this CD, so it should be readily available from your favorite online purveyor of metallic goods. It’s a damn good outing, and well worth your time and cash. No, ‘Out of the darkness’ isn’t perfect. There are times when the songs overstay their welcome. I wish they’d kicked things off with a more energetic, representative opener. And those metalheads without a sense of humor should stay far, far away from the controversial single / YouTube video “Kill that bitch”, whose over-the-top cheeseball lyrics are sure to cause a ruckus in certain quarters (my favorite line: “So bury her behind the Pizza Hut / You know I’m better than that slut”). Overall, A Sound of Thunder are a bright hope indeed for the U.S. metal community. Can’t wait to see the flash of lightning...



KIT




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