Here & Beyond
Released: 2010, Self Released
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
I continue to be impressed by the bands coming out of the Indian metal scene, actually the entire Eastern corner of the world. Slain is another act to come from that burgeoning scene, opting to go the route of more traditional and power metal with their debut full length, HERE & BEYOND. A fresh blend of Maiden’s melody, Symphony X’s structure and Queensryche’s maturity, Slain go well beyond the call of duty in creating an enjoyable and diverse slab of metal. Admittedly, metal in this vein is often like a type of personal kryptonite for me, I found HERE & BEYOND to be a fantastic entry from this young, dynamic band.
After the requisite intro of “The Dreamer,” “The Soldier” displays an upbeat tempo full of harmony guitar lines, gritty vocals with plenty of range, and loads of musical drama. Crunchy riffs, classical guitars, and a piano interlude are all incorporated into this one tune, but it never feels bloated or forced. “Your Majesty” is a heavier AOR tune, with some Jon Lord inspired keyboard work and some Rush flavored tones towards the end. “Superhero” and “Angel in the Sky” taste like Dokken flavored power ballads (even bearing some vocal resemblance to a young Don), but the bouncing harmonies and keep the ship afloat. But even mellower spots like these are buoyed by the pomp and drive of “Spread Your Wings” and “Judgment Call,” providing some well dispersed balance across the album. Saving the big guns for last, the closing title track packs a grab bag of riffs, time signatures, vocal gymnastics, and synth work. A great coda for a great album, it made me want to press “play” again.
The guitar team of Manek D’silva and Bryden Lewis are put in the spotlight with some great riffs and some gorgeous solo lines. Avoiding the typical noodles and wankery, the musicianship is displayed tastefully and in context of the song. Vocalist Judah Sandhy has a powerful voice that’s content in a potent lower register, but is also has some exceptional dexterity. The rhythm section of Naresh Nathan and Jared Sandhy feel like they’re kept in the back seat of the mix, and I suspect there’s some good stuff going here that’s sadly going unrecognized. And keyboardist Jonathan Wesley is the glue that keeps the whole thing rolling, balancing atmospheric synth effects, progressive space outs, and traditional piano performances through the HERE & BEYOND. Individually, everyone has their merits, but collectively the guys make one powerful album.
Slain show their passion for metal through the passion in their music. You can tell when a band is going through the motions, following a paint-by-numbers pattern for what makes up a metal album. Slain isn’t that band. HERE & BEYOND is vibrant and intense, and even though you’ll hear plenty of hints from other bands on the album, the care and focus that Slain applies to their craft is evident. HERE & BEYOND is available for purchase through Slain’s website, currently for a paltry $3.49 USD. You’ll spend more than that at the McDonald’s drive through, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t give it a Slain a chance.