To say I have been waiting, gasping, panting and desperate for this album would be an understatement. Dendera’s debut release, The Killing Floor, is one of the strongest and most impressive debuts I’ve heard in many years. Their live performance backs it up, and they’re a nice bunch of guys to boot.
I’ve held back on the review as I wanted to give it a few listens. The reason for this is that on first listen I wasn’t as impressed as I’d hoped I would be. But please read on…
One thing we often expect when a new album comes out from a band we like is more of the same. Sure, this is good. Familiar, easy to get into, carry on where we left of. But do that for three or four albums and you’re labelled as being stuck in a creative rut.
I made this mistake when I jumped at the most recent Machine Head album, for instance. Trying to compare anything to Unto the Locust is impossible. I rank it as my favourite album since the year 2000 and one of my top of all time. So when Bloodstone & Diamonds wasn’t Locust Part 2 I found myself initially disappointed. However, several months on and B&D has found its rightful place on my regular playlist as it’s a damn fine album in its own right.
What Dendera have done – between their first and second releases – is change. Sure, we can go all Garth and mutter “we fear change” (anyone who doesn’t understand this reference needs to ask assistance of an older metalhead), and it’s not something you’d usually expect from such a young act. Usually you’ve got a good handful of releases and personnel changes before a new sound rears its head. Pillars of Creation was written and recorded before the recent departure of long-time guitarist Tony Fuller, so this isn’t the result of new blood sticking their oar in.
Whereas The Killing Floor was very much a Maiden-influenced album, very traditional metal in sound and feel (and none the worse for it), Pillars of Creation has more of a hard rock edge to it in places and larger, more epic feel in others. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not “light” in any respect, but more well-rounded and varied. This, after their time and efforts together, is a sound that Dendera can truly call their own.
I’m not going to go through the album track-by-track – you can do that yourselves when you buy a copy, and buy one you should – but here are some highlights:
Opener “Claim Our Throne” is written purely so that the band can walk on stage as the intro ramps up the excitement with low lighting and loads of fog. Before it kicks in and positively demands you start a mosh pit.
“Disillusioned” manages to blend Sabbath heaviness with an airy, harmonious chorus.
My favourite track is probably “The Chosen One”. I love the orchestral build and harmonies over the “Even your God prays for a better day” chorus.
Oh, and honourable mention to “Edge of Tomorrow” with one of the best intros on the album and which is the perfect track to end on. Really leaves you wanting more. But that’s why mp3 and CD players have a “repeat album” button…
The simple fact is that this is a damn fine album, just different to Dendera’s initial release – and this is a good thing. The slight change in sound caught me by surprise, but after a couple of days, Pillars of Creation has found its way onto my mp3 player. A hallowed digital hall reserved only for a very small number (couple of dozen) of albums.
Pillars of Creation will be released on June 22nd