When a band promotes themselves as being suitable for fans of Metallica, Megadeth and Iron Maiden, you can’t help but listen with pre-programmed expectations. However, this band caught my eye and ear for more than just who they are likened to.
The Canadian four-piece recently released their debut album Conductor of Storms, a serious salute to the 1980s speed/thrash metal sound. Even the album artwork gives a nod to classic metal album sleeves of days gone by.
UK-born Liam Collingwood’s interesting vocal sound is mature and gravely yet slightly screamy and strangely familiar. It keeps you listening to see what it’s going to do next and more than anything else just doesn’t seem to match the person it’s coming from.
As the opening track “Nightwalk” launches, it’s true that you are transported right back to c1984 and the classic high energy speed-metal sound of Metallica’s Ride the Lightning, but you’re certainly no worse off for it. Liam’s vocals are, for me, just the right mix of shout vs sing and with audible lyrics you can follow the theme of the songs.
“Machination Factory” follows with a heavier plodding beat but still throws in some rapid riffs and high speed solo work. This is a familiar sound and whilst it wins no awards for originality, I don’t think it matters. There is room for more of this.
If you’re not paying close attention you could miss the (likely intentional) blurred division between the following two tracks “An Empty Glass” and “In the Distance”, the second of which is just a snip of 2:50 minutes, compared to the lengthier tracks on the rest of the album that stay true to form of the genre. Who doesn’t love a 12-minute rock epic?
We then arrive at the first true, and I think perfectly timed, highlight of the album “The Angel of Rain”. The opening picked guitar melody really catches your attention and brings you back out of the heavy haze the band have created for the listener thus far. This track also gives a chance for bass player Eric Wesa to stand out. After we’re treated to a classic chord sequence and some tinkly harmonics in a sea of calm, Liam’s vocals come in with a more softly spoken approach. This soon sears upward and the track opens out into full throttle. The 7:40 minute track peaks and dips and brings us calmly back to the opening melody, much like riding a storm. It really feels like these guys have achieved the mood they were looking to create, particularly with this track.
Some superb guitar work to make Kirk Hammett proud follows in the next two tracks “A Sacrifice” and “Escape”. You can really hear guitarist Bret Gibbs’ hero-worship coming through here, but he really has a penchant for the style and gets it just right. How do these guitarists move their fingers so fast? Hats off guys.
The album draws to a close with, you guessed it, a 12-minute epic. Well this doesn’t disappoint. I must admit I had to use a leading search engine to find out what “uxoricide” meant, but now I know and with a quick glance at the lyrics I have the complete picture. I am sure it would not sound too dissimilar to this to have been wrongly incarcerated for killing your wife. We’re also treated to some more singing from Liam (as opposed to his shouty but quite intriguing voice) of which I wouldn’t mind hearing more.
For me, in summary, this album is an homage, a tribute, a salute and a handshake to classic heavy metal music of the 1980s and early 90s and is very well worth a listen.
You can download the album now on Amazon (and support this website!).
Header photo by Kevin Eisenlord