Released: 2004, Massacre Records/Sound Pollution
Reviewer: Anders Sandvall
The leader of this new band is a legend so I don’t think he needs further introduction. James Rivera has been a part of Hellstar and Destiny’s End. He’s currently the new singer in Seven Witches. The Distant Thunder band name is taken from Hellstar’s third album. According to Rivera this is a continuation of both Hellstar and Destiny’s End. Also in the band are Eric Halpern (Destiny’s End), Gregg Hill, Mike LePond (Symphony X) and Rick Ward (Midnight Circus). I guess this could be considered a US metal supergroup.
WELCOME TO THE END is an eleven song debut and two of the songs are covers. The covers are the old Hellstar song “Run With The Pack” and Accept’s old classic “Restless & Wild”. An instrumental track is also featured with the name “Distant Thunder.”
The album is produced by the guitarist and mastermind of Seven Witches, Jack Frost and was mastered by Andy Horn (Majesty, Cage, Rob Rock). Frost is as brilliant a producer as he is a guitar player and I think there are similarities with his own band. The music is straight uncomplicated heavy metal in the same spirit as Seven Witches but the difference between them are that Distant Thunder plays a bit more melodic heavy metal with the focus on heavy metal.
Rivera is at the top of the mix and he shifts between his regular vocals and his higher register, a la Rob Halford. The band are great musicians and they have a really strong production, but it all falls when Rivera opens his mouth. He sounds better when he sings within his ability, but when he tries for the higher notes he fails big time. Halpern and Hill have deep and full guitar sounds and they have a lot of sharp duels between them. Ward has a stable and heavy drum sound. If you like Rivera’s older bands you’re surely going to like this. Personally I’m not a bit impressed. As an old fan of the German god’s in Accept I’m brought to tears when they totally molest “Resltess & Wild.” It’s a scary cover and just like some other songs here it just feels unnecessary on the album.
The positive things about this album could be counted on one hand. First, we have the great production. Second, the competent musicians. Third, hmm ... there aren’t any more things. I’m a big fan of heavy metal but this sad album is tucked away right now.