'Beyond The Martyrs'
Gary 'Rockulus' Clarke
This five-piece Heavy Metal band hail from Pennsylvania and since starting out in 2007 have worked hard and earned some respect from the Heavy Metal loving community.
With two studio albums under their belt already plus an EP called 'Blood, Fire, Beer', this third effort lumbers forth with great intent and those doom flourishes are hardly evident in comparison to their previous recordings. Welcome to the twin-guitar attack of a pure brooding Heavy Metal act who have embraced Iron Maiden in splashes, Manowar in spirit and their own self-awareness of identity.
The eight tracks within 'Beyond The Martyrs' showcase some familiar but well executed riffs, along with a superb performance by lead vocalist Butch Balich who delivers each syllable with conviction. The opening three songs chug along writhing in Metal glory, whilst being overshadowed by a deeper sadness somewhere within constantly twisting, precise blows.
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Once you reach 'Trinity', the ebb and flow is disrupted by a jarring guitar foundation on which the song settles. Incidentally, there's an appropriate sample used of the Oppenheimer narrative when reflecting over the trinity bomb as he says “Now I'm become death, the destroyer of worlds... I s'ppose we all thought that one way or another."
After three minutes and fifty seconds of 'Four Candles Burning' which stomps with resolution and crawls through the halls of nevermore, the longest track on offer bursts into view. 'The Coward's Path' begins predictably before dwelling in moments of softer guitar. This makes way for distorted chords before going back into melancholy arrangements, and so the audio journey continues until a change of pace with rapid guitars whips up some urgency.
"Cast Out All Raging Spirits" continues where the first three tracks on this album left off and before you know it, the title track rounds off 'Beyond the Martyrs'.
This album closer is an instrumental which only goes to reiterate how strong the band is at structuring their music.
It isn't glossy, over-produced or a showcase for an individual virtuoso performance and ego. 'Beyond The Martyrs' is a five-piece putting their heart and soul into a workman-like presentation of a moody Heavy Metal sound, utilising their well crafted twin-guitar approach of Jason Mucio and Erik Johnson, and the passionate vocal delivery of Balich.
They feel like a band more than competent enough to create an anthem if they want to; that one song that could propel them above their brethren in the metal music-making fraternity. For now though, we must all settle on a third studio album that isn't anything else than what it is; a solid Heavy Metal workout with hints of doom, some progressive elements and impassioned old school influences.
Butch Balich - vocals
Jason Mucio - guitar
Erik Johnson - guitar
Andy Ramage - bass
Kevin Latchaw - drums
1. By Endurance We Conquer
2. No Peace Beyond the Line
3. The Hands of Time are Bleeding
5. Four Candles Burning
6. The Coward's Path
7. Cast Out All Raging Spirits
8. Beyond the Martyrs