Released: 2014, ShredGuy Records
Most of us thought that the band, Onward was done. It had been years since the bands contract with Century Media had ended and the bands third THE NEVERENDING SUN came out on a small label, with not much fanfare. Then in 2012 vocalist Michael Grant sadly passed away, so again, many of us thought, that was the proverbial nail in the coffin for Onward, to use a crude metaphor.
Earlier this year, it was my very pleasant surprise to learn that Guitarist Toby Knapp had just enough material in the vault to scrap together one more Onward album as a final tribute to Michael. With the assistance of the people at ShredGuy Records, Toby has released NEW FATHOM’S DOWN.
The fourth and final Onward album is based on an old demo but Knapp has re-recorded the whole thing and used Michael vocals. The CD itself is a little bit of a budget endeavour with a single page booklet, with no lyrics but it does have a cool picture of Toby and Michael worshipping at the altar of rock and roll! The production is good, the crew did a good job restoring what they could and reworking the rest. The nine-track album runs for just over 40 minutes.
As expected the songs are in the classic Metal realm with hints of Power Metal. The tracks all simple enough, not too progressive but letting good riffs and melodies carry the songs. The album runs in mostly the mid-pace field and not perhaps as heavy as the first couple of Onward albums, but no less tuneful. Some of the tracks even have a bit more of a rock and roll vibe, such as ‘The Day That Nothing Died’. Knapp tasteful and elegant soloing shows why he is highly rated among true fans of guitar. There is a bit of acoustic guitar work in the songs as well especially on the ballad ‘Runaway Day’. Of course it is a good to hear Michael Grant on what is likely to be one of his last batch of unreleased performances.
NEW FATHOM’S DOWN is a fitting tribute to the enormously talented (and underrated in my opinion) vocalist. He was finally getting some recognition for his excellent work in Crescent Shield when it all fell apart. I’m glad fans can have one last chance to hear some of his early work in this excellent album.