Assedium - Rise of the warlords 4/5

Reviewed: 3-2-07


1. Ancestral
2. Sacred vengeance
3. Messenger of chaos
4. Cimmerian steel
5. Under the black stars
6. Swordance
7. March of the hoplite
8. Imperial dream
9. Thirst for glory
10. Legions of the underworld

This is a great slab of brand new, slightly dark, straightforward melodic metal with the common fantasy themes and background.

To me, it's undeniable that for most bands (and, for that matter, other artists, whether writers, painters, etc.) there is something special about their first couple of releases. Whether you want to call it naivete, innocence, or fresh inspiration that gets applied to a performer's first few works, or whether you consider that over time, ideas are spent, boredom creeps in, outside influences have more say, a lot of acts become a bit jaundiced and less exciting, many is a time when early on you capture something special from a band. It may be nothing more than a band still having the heart to write about what they want to, without caring about whether it's hip or mature, or anything else. Some bands remain great and stalwart despite all this, to their credit, but as we know, many fade, change, or go away. Assedium's first CD brings to mind some of these qualities, and delivers so well in what it tries to do.

Somewhat similar to Domine, especially the first CD, Assedium is a touch on the raw side, mildly dark, and very straightforward melodic traditional metal, a la Manilla Road, as well as Battleroar. The lyrics that trace the classic (good) metal subject matter of epic fantasy, Conan, Elric, mythology, and history. Or, musically, imagine a perfect cross between the respective 2nd CDs from Omen and Cirith Ungol. (Huge connection, Domine, Battleroar, Cirith Ungol all had their Elric songs, while Manilla Road, Battleroar, and Domine all had songs based on Conan or other Robert Howard works.)

The vocalist wisely doesn't try to (like some of the more symphonic Italian metal acts) sing too high and out of his range, but takes a bit more of a low key and restrained approach, with results that are pretty good, shades of Morby from Domine, Mark Shelton from Manilla Road, and even a lower key, less distinct Tim Baker from Cirith Ungol. My only choice might be if he could be a bit clearer in the words he's singing, but that's about all. The production is rather pleasantly spartan and bare, letting the effective leads clearly show themselves, and there's plenty of nice, melodic leads to carry the music. It's easy to imagine a sophomore effort improving just a bit, with tighter vocals, better production, or even more polished playing, but none of these are real problems as they are.

This is a strong debut in a style I very much enjoy, with songs that are effective, and is well worth getting, and may hold even greater promise for the future.




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