Timelord - Regeneration 3.5/5
1. Dawn of dissent
2. The great machine
3. Slaves prelude
5. Sparks of rebellion
6. Cult of the dead
7. Aeons calling
9. The alchemist
10. Faster than the speed of light
In today's crowded metal marketplace, it is only natural (and probably essential) to rely on categories and labels to gauge whether a particular new offering is worth checking out. Well, this new 'Regeneration' CD, the debut by Virginia's Timelord, is awfully difficult to squeeze into a narrow classification. As an initial matter, the CD was released by Shrapnel Records (which I had long since assumed to be defunct), so one automatically surmises that this must be some kind of guitar shred recording that would be of little interest to non-musicians. Then there are the descriptions for 'Regeneration' floating around the Internet, which copiously toss around terminology such as European metal, speed metal, progressive metal, and others. Which is it? To me, speed metal is generally much different from progressive metal, and guitar shred music generally has little in common with either. Thoroughly confused, I nonetheless took the plunge for 'Regeneration' based on a few well-placed recommendations by metalheads whose opinions I trust.
One listen was enough to explain the marketing conundrum created by 'Regeneration'. All of the descriptions mentioned above have elements of truth to them, as Timelord have created a fascinating piece of work that does not fit neatly within any particular pigeonhole, other than perhaps "very good heavy metal." The core of the band's sound lies in the speed riffing of Matt Aub and Aaron Richert, both of whom are extremely proficient 6-stringers whose technical style and bruising attack sometimes brings to mind those classic Friedman/Becker duels in the Cacophony days, the Versailles/Garcia combo (Agent Steel), or maybe even the Barragan/Corbin team from Helstar's 'Nosferatu' opus. And the rhythm section of Joe Konczal (bass) and Rick Hodes (drums) are no slouches either, with Hodes in particular dishing out some tasty fills and interesting drumwork. There are some progressive-type breaks here and there, and certainly some European metal nods, but for the most part this is technical speedy guitar-driven music.
But don't think for a minute that 'Regeneration' is a niche release that will appeal only to the Berklee/Guitar Institute of Technology crowd. Timelord are definitely songwriters first, and flashy players 2nd. "Cult of the dead" and "Dawn of dissent" are crushingly good songs, and much of the rest of the material is not far behind. Especially interesting are the "lyricist's notes" accompanying each song, wherein Timelord explain the meaning of the lyrics, the centerpiece of which is a 5-song suite inspired by the utopian literature of Orwell and others. Aub may not win any "vocalist of the year" honors with his somewhat limited range, but he is sufficiently tuneful and powerful, in a more controlled Bruce Hall (Agent Steel) or Tom Gattis (Tension/Wardog) kind of way, although I don't think either of those comparisons is completely satisfying. As a special treat, 'Regeneration' includes a fittingly hyper-speed cover of Raven's legendary "Faster than the speed of light", with John Gallagher himself supplying the lead vocals. Awesome. More bands should cover Raven, dammit! For a further bonus, Timelord tack on 3 demo tracks not featured on the regular CD. These demo songs are good, albeit not as polished as the CD proper, and the last 2 are instrumentals that get a bit too Shrapnel-ly for my tastes. My only other gripe about the demo tracks is the totally pointless lengthy pauses inserted between them, which has me scrambling for my remote every time to avoid multi-minutes of silence after each demo cut.
Fans of speedy melodic thrash with intelligent lyrics and virtuoso musicianship should find 'Regeneration' much to their liking. Reasonable reference points would be Helstar and Agent Steel, even though neither is directly on target. Whatever labels and taglines may be affixed to their music, Timelord are a welcome entrant to the heavy metal scene.
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