Arctic Flame - Declaration 3.5/5

Reviewed: 2-6-09


1. The unknown god
2. Blind leads the blind
3. Lords of the wasteland
4. Hammer down
5. Disciples of the flame
6. Desert moon
7. Declaration
8. Shadow of a broken man

This is the 2nd CD from New Jersey’s Arctic Flame, a solid continuation of their first work ('Primeval aggressor'), and unlike a lot of the few remaining U.S. metal stalwarts out there, their work’s strongest tone is that of NWOBHM flavor, with similarity to bands like Sacred Rite, and more recently, Overlorde and the most recent Omen ('Eternal black dawn'), characterized to my ears by the sweet, harmonic, and somewhat laid-back vocals, a relatively simple (and frequently uptempo) drum line, dual guitar work, and a simpler, old-vinyl-sounding production rather than a terribly sharp production aimed for by most metal bands of late.

Vocalist Dave Lowe has improved a bit technically since their debut, but is similar in style, a solid but somewhat mellow voice for the most part in the mid-upper range, occasionally ditching out a power note above that, but a lot of it could fit in with classic rock as well as heavy metal. There’s some nice guitar work with harmonies between Rob Mariani and Sebastian Garcia. With relatively simple songs like “Blind leads the blind” pretty stretched out, there are some slow moments on the CD, and I guess by contrast they make a bit more aggression in songs like “Lords of the wasteland” stand out a bit more and feel heavier than they are, but wow, the sound of that will really make you wonder whether you’re listening to a CD or an LP spinning on a none-too-expensive turntable. The title track is my favorite anthem on the song, and the most memorable song to me.

The CD is similar in style to its predecessor, although more straightforward; for instance, I don’t hear the Slough Feg (The Lord Weird) or Manilla Road influences like I did with that CD. It still has some nice metallic moments and is an enjoyable listen, but it probably doesn’t rise to the level of an essential purchase, unless you really love the NWOBHM influences in the music, because that’s really what you’ll be getting.




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