Released: 2005, Independent
Here’s another example of an independent band that should be signed! Hailing from the Vancouver, Canada area this 5-piece covers power, prog, and technical metal with a flair and finesse that conceals the fact that this is their debut!
RAMAYANA was written and recorded in 2002 by the line-up of Scott Unger (bass), Jesse White (vocals), Andrew Bak (drums), and the 2 guitarists Jeff Dormer and Dave Priban. After the album was done, both guitarists left the band. After hearing the album this is a bit disturbing since the guitar playing is a big part of the reason why this album reaches heights that many indies dream about. However, the band found 2 new replacement guitarists with Geoff Way and Trevor Leonard. Any keen reader might recognize Trevor’s name from the now defunct Newfoundland thrash band Fireign. Since that band’s demise, Trevor has moved on and and west a few thousand kilometers to the other side of the country. So now that you have the short intro on who the band is, let’s get to the music!
Some adjectives that when combined describe the sound of Antiquus include: technical, powerful, intricate, epic, melodic. Some bands that come to mind when listening include Into Eternity (for the more technical elements, not the death metal), Megadeth (RUST IN PEACE era), Maiden (for the harmonies), and Iced Earth. The band sounds nothing like just one of those bands, and in so doing have forged their own identity. Some people might think that Antiquus are power metal, but the only song that really fits that mold is the CD opener, “Empire Rising”. This one has the typical elements of soaring vocals, speedy riffing, and fast double kicking drums. This style is most noticeable in this track but others tracks share similar elements while going beyond the style to incorporate much more. Some of the twin guitar melodies in the next track, “Changeling” have a Megadeth feel. This one is mid-paced and has very noticeably doubled (or more) vocal part. Throughout the album much of the vocals are multi-layered adding to the power. A slight Iced Earth meets OverKill feel permeates the more thrashy but slow-paced “Talin Bridge”. Some nice leads on this one saturated with tasteful wah effect. Next is the adventurous track, “Battle of Eylau”. For an indie band, having an 11min plus track on a debut album is not common …especially having it well written, and able to keep your attention. This bold epic track covers a lot of ground and is another reason why this band stands out. Not to be topped here, the remainder of the album is a 6-part epic called “Ramayana - An Epic in Six Parts...”! The epic begins with a sitar that hints at the band’s interest in other cultures and sounds. You can even at times hear a slight mid-eastern influenced melody with the vocals. On this 6-part section of the album, the lyrics also show a maturity and influence beyond the overdone topics found in many metal bands. Basically, by this point in the album, if you haven’t been won over you will be.
Antiquus are one of the finest examples of up and coming Canadian metal talent. If you are looking for something bold and adventurous from the melodic metal genre, and have grown tired of the Helloween clones, this is a band that has a lot to offer. If this album is only but a hint of what they can do, they will go far. The only thing nagging at me is that the two guitarists who play on this album are no longer with the band! Lets hope the new line-up can pull it off so well on the next album!