Released: 2009, Metal Blade Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Sitting through Woe of Tyrants’ sophomore release, KINGDOM OF MIGHT, was a real eye-opener, in that, unlike every other new band hailing from the United States, there are no traces of metalcore, deathcore or clean vocals to be found. In fact, this record is more of a melodic death-meets-power/thrash record with plenty of NWOBHM-inspired guitar flair. Releasing a full-on melo-death album in 2009 would be career suicide and the current thrash revival has more than enough wagons hitched to it already, so KINGDOM OF MIGHT follows its own path and is quite a unique beast, indeed. Metal Blade Records picked up the Ohio natives based on their 2007 debut, BEHOLD THE LION, and the dynamic mix of styles showcased on KINGDOM OF MIGHT could certainly spell success for the young band given the proper push.
What immediately jumps out on KINGDOM OF MIGHT is the plentiful—and well-played—guitars of Nick Dozer and Matt Kincaid. On tracks like “Pearls Before Swine” and “Like Jasper and Carnelian,” intricate guitar melodies come together in a battle royale and the winner is the listener. Dozer and Kincaid weave such a nifty tapestry of patterned runs and lead breaks that a late eighties/early nineties feel creeps in. Never ones to shy away from a flashy solo, “Sounding Jerusalem” is six-string excess at its finest. Johnny Roberts gets his turn in the spotlight on “Break The Fangs of The Wicked” with perfectly-placed fills and a rolling march-like tempo. Even when he is churning out a blast inferno on “Kingdom of Might (The Eclipse),” Roberts never lets things get away from him where the drums overtake the song. At its root, Woe of Tyrants’ sound is death metal but the band manages to keep songs like “The Seven Braids of Samson” (great Maiden-like solo) and “Sounding Jerusalem” out of the mire with enough melody and wheedly guitar interplay. Taking a complete left turn on the instrumental “Sons of Thunder,” the music takes a southern vibe to the max with a showy guitar solo, great big power chords and a slow groove that is irresistible. A bold move but it works. Some might find the vocal style of Chris Catanzaro a bit redundant and he certainly isn’t the band’s strongest point but he does manage to convey enough dynamic within his range to keep things interesting…and thank Lemmy for bypassing the clean vocal trend!
KINGDOM OF MIGHT is a very good record and certainly one of the first highlights of the new year. Maybe it is the complete absence of the clichés that riddle most of the metal that gets released these days but Woe of Tyrants is a welcome breath of fresh air to these ears. They aren’t doing anything groundbreaking but dabbling in a few carefully chosen styles serves this record well and never seems contrived. KINGDOM OF MIGHT is a solid death metal record but with a few nods to other influences that helped shape this young band’s sound and that is more than enough to be called “original” by today’s standards.
KILLER KUTS: “Break The Fangs of The Wicked,” “Pearls Before Swine,” “Sounding Jerusalem,” “The Seven Braids of Samson,” “Like Jasper and Carnelian”