Friday, July 12, 2013

Golden Resurrection - One Voice For the Kingdom (2013)

I can admit when I'm wrong.  I'm a big enough man to recognize when I've made a mistake and need to take responsibility for it.  The consequences are sometimes unpleasant, but I've found it's better to take your lumps and move forward than to try and string things along until they end up worse.  Sometimes one has to take a bruise to one's pride as well, which isn't fun, but builds character.  Thankfully, what I'm admitting to being wrong about is the direction of Golden Resurrection's last album.  In my review for it, I said I felt like the mid-paced approach suited them and was a good direction for them to go in as opposed to the speedier, more neo-classical approach of the debut.  Well, I was wrong.

While I stand by my review otherwise, and think that "Man With a Mission" is a solid album, I'm glad that Golden Resurrection has elected to go back to a speedier approach with "One Voice For the Kingdom".  This latest release has what I feel is potentially the strongest set of songs the band has released thus far, and has begun to solidify what could be the Golden Resurrection sound - a mix of neo-classical metal, European power metal, and traditional metal with a knack for melody, keyboards to spare, and catchy hooks.  I also like that the focus, vocally, has shifted more toward Christian Liljegren's direction.  Don't get me wrong, I like Tommy ReinXeed's vocals, and I think he uses them perfectly in his main band, ReinXeed.  But this project "feels" like a Christen Liljegren band, so his vocals as the focus are part of the attraction.

If you've heard the band's debut, or even "Man With a Mission", you know what you're getting here in terms of instrumentation.  Guitar work by Tommy is as strong as ever, with more of the faster-paced playing and speedy riffs he has become known for with ReinXeed.  His penchant for neo-classical playing comes through in several spots, from the intro to "The Temple Will Remain" & the bit in "Spirit War" where he echoes a classical piece, to the instrumental "Heavenly Melodies".  The guitar sound is just about perfect for the music as well, with a very "clean" distorted sound, if that makes sense.  There's not so much distortion in the guitar tone that it feels too heavy, but this is obviously metal music through and through.  And as always, Tommy's guitar solos are excellent, balancing fret board pyrotechnics with melody and some degree of soul, especially on the album's closing instrumental, "Moore Lord" (another reference to the late Gary Moore, perhaps?).  Bass work by Stefan is solid, and is nicely placed in the mix.  Bass is present and audible, you can hear what it's doing and where it's going, and it adds weight without dominating the proceedings.  Drum work by Alfred Fridhagen is excellent, and the drum production is pretty good.  A punchy snare drum sound accompanies thick and full bass drums & toms, and cymbals ring out when necessary, though they do lack a bit of emphasis during moments when a bit more cymbal would make sense.  Keyboard & Hammond organ work by Svenne Jansson is solid, adding that touch of faux-symphonic sound when fitting, and providing an extra melodic layer in the background much of the time.  The eponymous track even has some nice interplay between keyboard and guitar, trading licks/solos and propelling the song forward.

Vocally, Christian Liljegren is in fine form.  I still believe his most impassioned and strongest performances have been with Divinefire, but honestly, what he's doing here is a close second.  He brings some of the grit he employs with Divinefire while maintaining a clean, melodic sound through much of the record.  I also believe that Christian gets better with age.  Some of his earliest neo-classical and power metal material suffered from  vocal control problems, but over time Christian has really come into his own, having developed the ability to control his instrument much more effectively.  He has also increased his range, or at least flexed his vocal chords enough to utilize the upper range and give us those high-pitched wails.  Christian's voice is much of the draw of Golden Resurrection because it's fairly unique and distinctive, so if you like it, you'll appreciate what he's doing here.  Lyrically, this record is no different than what the band has already done, though a couple of the songs might be slightly less overt than what came on the previous record.  If lyrics based upon Christianity turn you off, these won't win you over.  If you enjoy such things, you'll be edified despite Christian's somewhat limited abilities as a lyricist.  This isn't poetry, but it's not Reader's Digest, either.  The lyrics are appropriate for what the band is trying to communicate.

With everything coming together so nicely on the album, there are a couple minor complaints.  I enjoy "Heavenly Melodies" and "Moore Lord" quite a bit, but honestly, 2 instrumental tracks is a bit much for an album with only 8 vocal tracks.  Perhaps the band is trying not to overstay their welcome in your CD or MP3 player, which is good, but I would maybe have included either 1 less instrumental, or perhaps added an additional vocal track in between them so it didn't seem like instrumental work was dominating the second half of the album.  Be that as it may, I would hope the band would play "Heavenly Melodies" during concerts to give Christian a breath-break and showcase Tommy's skills.  Also, I agree with a couple of the other reviews I've read that the title track is a bit weak and disappointing.  It's not bad, per se, it's just not title track material in the same way that the title tracks for the 1st 2 albums were.  It's just a bit nondescript and less memorable than much of the rest of the material.  Overall, however, this is a contender for the band's strongest release, and certainly worthy of the name they've made for themselves.  Recommended.


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