Eternal Legacy - The coming of the tempest 3.5/5
2. Time out of mind
3. Rise of Daemon
4. Realm of wind and ice
5. The coming of the tempest
6. Into the afterworld
7. The cavern
8. One last hope
9. Fires wrath
11. Into the afterworld (bonus track)
Here's a real curveball from long-running Ohio-based label, Auburn Records. The imprint is known for nothing if not a reputation for being staunchly traditional in its approach to Midwestern U.S. metal, releasing CDs by the likes of Destructor, Breaker, Shok Paris, Aftershok and Wretch in recent years. Auburn Records is synonymous with high quality, no-nonsense, died-in-the-wool old-school metal. Naturally I assumed that Eternal Legacy would be of the same ilk, particularly when I learned that their lead guitarist and co-writer, Shaun Vanek, also plays in Wretch (although he is not credited on that act's superb 2006 release, 'Reborn').
In truth, Eternal Legacy have little in common with their labelmates. For starters, they're a whole lot younger. From the band photos, I'd wager that as many as 3 of the band members were not even a twinkle in their fathers' eyes when the curtain closed on the decade of the 80s, so there's a very different frame of reference here. Pantera or 'Jester Race'-era In Flames probably qualify as classic metal in these youngsters' minds. Furthermore, Eternal Legacy boast a heavy reliance on keyboards that is unprecedented on the Auburn roster. And these aren't mere atmospheric background keyboards either. Sometimes they sound spacey like Ayreon, sometimes like techno, sometimes like video game effects, and sometimes even like black metal ambience, but they're very prominent in the band's overall sound. So whatever you do, don't embark on this musical journey expecting to hear 59 minutes of music in the same style as Breaker or Wretch, because that ain't what Eternal Legacy are about.
So what do Eternal Legacy sound like then? It's actually a very difficult question. The label has characterized them as European-styled epic power metal. I guess I can hear that, as there are elements of the arrangements, the vocals, and the keyboard/guitar interplay that are reminiscent of especially the Italian school of melodic power metal. But in some ways that moniker is misleading because there's a lot more going on here than just a plain vanilla Labyrinth power/prog type band. There are loads of heavy-duty riffs that would not be out of place on an Iced Earth or a Brainstorm song. There are a couple of bits where the riffing and pinch harmonics are reminiscent of the departed Dimebag Darrell. There are even parts (I'm thinking specifically here of the middle section of "Cyberplague") where the band dip into unabashed Dragonforce worship with hyperspeed melodic guitar runs, wacked-out keys and blastbeats. So what Eternal Legacy give us is a sound that's traditional enough to justify their appearance at this month's Headbanger's Open Air Festival in Germany, while experimental enough to grab the ProgPower crowd and cutting-edge enough to appeal to the younger generation of metalheads.
Personally, I have mixed feelings about this CD. I applaud Eternal Legacy for not simply writing a cookie-cutter traditional metal CD, and for having the courage and creativity to attempt to meld their influences into something different from the norm. There are some absolutely killer tunes ("Metal anvil" and "Shadow of revolution" come to mind) and excellent riffs and melodies are to be found in abundance. But I don't think they've quite achieved their goal yet. Those keyboards are uber-distracting at times and often do not fit the music (all of this is coming, of course, from someone who generally dislikes keyboards in metal, and especially despises "weird" keyboard sounds frolicking through his music, so take it with a pound of salt). Also, singer Jason Vanek is obviously a guitar player first and a vocalist second. His voice is okay and all, but he sometimes strains against his limited range, a bit like the guy in Steel Tormentor or even a Chris Caffery, trying to do too much. Finally, the disparate influences mentioned above sometimes clash in ways that make the material sound disjointed and lack cohesion.
All of that said, my message for the guys in Eternal Legacy is a positive one. Don't give up. You're onto something good. Don't cater to what crusty narrow-minded old-school guys like me think. Find your own path, your own sound. You have the potential to be something special. Bill Peters will take good care of you. I'll be watching and listening with interest.
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