Released: 2010, 7 Hard
Since leaving acclaimed Australian power metallers Dungeon in 2005, guitarist Stu Marshall has been a very busy guy. He released a solo album in 2007, ALTERED STATES, and began his new project Empires of Eden in 2008. Clearly seeing the group as an opportunity to work with several different talents, for the first Empires of Eden album, SONGS OF WAR AND VENGEANCE, Stu brought in three vocalists and a slew of guest musicians, including Lord Tim (Dungeon), Ben Thomas (Paindivision). For the second album, the guest vocalists include the likes of Zak Stevens (Circle II Circle, Savatage), Steve Grimmett (Onslaught, Grim Reaper), Sean Peck (Cage) and Mike Vescera (many, many bands).
So let’s get the vocals out of the way first: everyone except Mike Vescera shines. Peck and Grimmett in particular put in spectacular performances on their songs. Even the lesser known vocalists who sang on the first Empires of Eden album do admirable jobs and easily hold their own against the big guys. Unfortunately, the first track, “Of Light and Shadows” features Vescera and while he doesn’t completely blow it (he’s too talented for that), he comes dangerously close to wrecking the chorus with his some ill-chosen high notes.
Lest we forget, Empires of Eden is Stu Marshall’s baby and he proves it over and over again throughout the album. With aggressive power metal riffs and tasteful, but showy solos, Marshall proves he’s definitely one of the unsung guitar heroes of today. As for his song writing, REBORN IN FIRE has everything a power metal fan could want; its sing-along power metal, but with just enough grit to make it rise above, despite a couple of fillers (“Of Light and Shadows”, the title track).
Stu Marshall has done a great job with this Empires of Eden project. REBORN IN FIRE is definitely recommended listening for all power metal fans.