We are making sacrifices to the Loa over here, watch your step if you do not want to get involved in voodoo mysteries.
In 2000, a 10 year old Link was renting some Nintendo 64 games from his local store. Browsing through the catalog, he found a blue cartridge that stood out from the grey plastic crowd. The sticker on the front depicted a bald man with black lenses pointing a gun. The little kid was excited and thought all the way back home how kick ass this new game, titled Shadowman, would be. And that was a huge mistake.
When the child turned on the game, a big mask with a stitched deep blue background popped along a dark ambient resonating soundtrack that engulfed that tiny room and transformed it into an asylum. The story was related to a dark god murderer that was collecting souls to construct an intra-dimensional tower to serve as a prison for killers on the Deadside in order to unleash the Apocalypse on Earth. The villain constantly quoted Bible passages and was always spitting blood from his mouth. The voodoo-fueled concept art and the deep horror narration blew little Link’s mind, and he went to bed so scared that when he closed his eyes, the gritty textured images of the game and the dark ambient soundtrack haunted the few dreams he had.
But Enough of this chit-chat, let’s just go to our business. Is the new A Sound of Thunder album a worthy follow-up to the impressive The Lesser Key of Solomon (previously unflushed by our hard-working team)?
A Sound of Thunder took the risk of the crowfunding route and succeeded in their quest. With the valuable help of Valiant Comics, the Washington band created a 60-minute concept album about the history of Jack Dominique Boniface as he turned into the Shadowman and his trials in the fight against Master Darque, the ruler of the Tower of Souls that draws the vital energies of the dead.
The first aspect that pops out on this album is the excellent vocal performance of Nina Osegueda. While older albums were within the definite arena of her style, with that aggressive clean and charismatic pitch perfectly suited to the traditional heavy metal, in Tales from the Deadside she exploited her broad vocal range to imprint more richness into the narrative style of the songs. Since the story depicted in the lyrics deals with multiple scenarios and characters, Nina’s work is built around different techniques and multiple colors. The acid croons and raspy screams are still there, but she also whispers, narrates, and sings lullabies of doom with a memorable ease.
The songwriting is highly melodic, but does not stray from the rivers of inspirational experimentation. Tracks like “Deadside” or “Losing Control (The Unquiet Shadow)” are testaments to different tempos and rhythmic bases that enrich the story and help to convey the different moods of the narration. In those songs, the progressive and doom metal influences detail the tribulations of the principal character, employing with guitar textures and mid tempos in some sections to empower the story twists.
On a similar spectrum, “Sandria (Carry On)”, “Can’t Go Back” and “Alissa (Life in Shadows) are built around mid-tempos that express strong feelings of melancholia without diluting the metal hard edges. Meanwhile, “Tower of Souls”, “Punk Mambo” or “Children of the Dark” are the brain destroyer headbang fests of the record, along with “Tremble” and “End Times” as part of a more anthem-like direction, perfectly adjusted for live settings.
Bass sounds, while being a little bit buried in the mix, work to provide a solid cloud for the guitars to rest. It is also well noted that bassist Jesse Keen helps with the keyboards, and that tiny addition is shown on some piano melodic lines and textural patterns that give a more complete feeling to the songs and spoken interludes. On the other hand, the drums keep the pace and double the rhythms when as needed; due to the touches of progressive metal on the album, Chris Haren’s work is executed with clean accuracy.
All the mood of the horror of the comic is present here, as well as the characters and the story structure with all the plot twists involved during the creation and development of Jack Boniface into the Shadowman. A Sound of Thunder made a noteworthy effort putting together a consolidated concept and bringing it into the metal scene without making it sound extremely cheesy or pretentious.
If you pass the “niche” threshold of listening to a record inspired by a less known comic book, I think you will enjoy Tales from the Deadside. This is a good and fun record to enjoy; it appeals to the comic book fans, melodic music connoisseurs or listeners that seek for more traditional vocal-driven metal. If you are one of these weird people, you can join with us in the Deadside; you will be very welcomed.
4.5 out ov 5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell
A Sound of Thunder’s Tales from the Deadside (Music Inspired by Shadowman) is out now. You can buy it on Bandcamp and the band’s e-shop. Remember to seek them out on Facebook and Twitter to be in touch with the band or to catch the dates of their live gigs; tell to them that Link Leonhart and Toilet ov Hell send their regards.