Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Faith Factor - Against A Darkened Sky
   
Musical Style: Power Metal Produced By:
Record Label: Retroactive Country Of Origin: USA
Year Released: 2008 Artist Website:
Tracks: 10 Rating: 85%
Running Time: 54:25

Faith Factor - Agains A Darkened Sky

New Jersey is home to Faith Factor and its unique brand of classic US power metal.  The band can trace its history to late 2006 when vocalist and founding member Norm “Ski” Kiersznowski, on tour in Puerto Rico with the mainstream heavy metal group Deadly Blessing, developed the vision of a “metal ministry to be called Faith Factor (that would) go forth to the masses in (both) the Christian and the secular worlds”.  Leaving Deadly Blessing after getting home from tour, Ski proceeded to recruit the guitar team of Chris “Moe” Matusieski and Blaine “Priest” Booth in addition to the rhythm section of drummer Dan “Karaoke Kid” Jefferson and bassist Joe “Slayer Of Darkness” Manghan.  With its line up complete, Faith Factor released a three song demo, appropriately entitled 07/07/07, in the summer of 2007 prior to signing a five year record deal with Retroactive Records the very next year.

Against A Darkened Sky, the groups fall of 2008 Retroactive full length debut, brings a traditional classic power metal sound certain to appeal to fans of Sacred Warrior, Recon, Jacobs Dream (David Taylor era), Fates Warning, old Queensryche, Crimson Glory and Iron Maiden.  Those whose musical tastes trend towards classic metal – think Saint and Judas Priest – should find a lot to like in Faith Factor as well.  The band best exhibits its technical songwriting skills on the resonant “In God’s Shadow”, intricate “Armor Of God” (time changes galore in this one), Recon-ish “Divine Temptation” and the all out progressiveness of the eleven minute “Ascend Unto Heaven”.  A more melodic based direction is taken on “The Rapture” while “Keep It True” proves a Christian metal anthem and “Light Replaces Darkness” an upbeat piece with a catchy chorus hook.  Rounding things out is the majestic power ballad “In Remembrance”.

To say that Ski has a set of pipes would be an understatement.  Bringing a high end vocal delivery not unlike that of Ray Parra (Sacred Warrior) or Vett Roberts (Recon), Ski takes the power and projection of Johnny Bomma (Rivera Bomma) and combines it with the all out range of Lance King (Avian).  And it works.  What I appreciate most about Ski is how he never overdoes it, always maintaining control while perfectly complementing the feel of the music at hand (just check out “In Remembrance” to understand my point).  But he is not all high end in that he can bring a mid-ranged presence (“Keep It True”) or add some gritty flavorings as well (“In God’s Shadow”).

The musicianship here is also of a high level.  Matusieski and Booth prove quite the solid guitar team, laying down a replete foundation of rhythm guitar while adorning “Keep It True” and “The Rapture” with their pyrotechnical abilities on lead guitar.  At this point it must be noted the strength of Faith Factor’s instrumental sound, a particular standing out best on “Ascend Unto Heaven” and “Divine Temptation”.  The work of bassist Joe Manghan also deserves credit (the guy lays down some absolutely killer bass lines).

Production values, while slightly raw in places, are competently done in bring out the best in the bands dark and weighty sound.

Symphonic instrumental album opener “Evila Si Eh” gives way to “Keep It True”, “The Rapture” and “In God's Shadow”, three classic power metal tracks that deliver a wallop.

“Keep It True” comes across in the form of a Christian metal anthem.  Kicking in to a falsetto scream from Ski before powering forward in strident fashion, the song brings all the qualities one expects from the power metal genre: sublimely delivered chorus, harshly driven backing vocals and plenty of flamboyant lead guitar (courtesy of Matusieski and Booth).  “Keep It True” even tapers for a passage giving tribune to classic bands of the past:

With Iron Maiden and Judas Priest,
Black Sabbath and Motorhead,
Dio and Doro and Helloween,
Forefathers of metal who led
Saxon, Accept and Manowar,
Metallica, Megadeth,
Queensryche, Slayer and Scorpions,
Anthrax and so much more…

Again, what we have here is a Christian metal anthem:

We come across the sea
God’s Metal Ministry
From the land of the home and the brave
Flying the Spirit, in more ways than one
Flag for Metal, and the Holy Son

We fight – for what we believe
Stand tall – we are the Metal breed

“The Rapture”, interestingly, begins quietly to an acoustic guitar only to pick up in pace as a bristling rhythm guitar steps forward.  The song proceeds to drive through its first verse as Ski trades off with the bands shouted backing vocals, not evening out until procuring a refined chorus put over the top by its palatial sensibilities.  More blazing lead guitar is added to a number dealing with the end times:

Seventh angel sounded,
Poured his vial into the air,
A voice cried up to Heaven,
“My Father, it is done”,
For the souls left behind,
Salvation the only answer,
Ours spirits will be lifted
On the day that evil will falter!

The mid-tempo muscle of “In God’s Shadows” delivers its share of melody.  The song proves a deep and resounding piece, switching between its tenacious verse portions and a lofty chorus in which an august environs is put into place.  Nice use of time changes throughout as well.  Credit Ski for a performance in which he melds elements of grit and gravel with his high end flavorings.  Spiritual warfare is the focus here:

In the end of war,
Show the demons your face,
But the face of Christ,
Is what they all will see,
Revelation now, becoming a reality…

Dawn is here, rise and draw your swords
We fight as one, for a risen Savior
The time has come, for him to pay
Let us take charge, and show true Faith
 
“In Remembrance” is as fine a power ballad as you will find.  Coming in at over eight minutes, the song represents a joining of the acoustic and electric: electric in terms of atmospheric passages highlighted by vestiges of keyboards; electric in terms of a powerfully delivered chorus backed by a razor edged rhythm guitar- that kicks in as things build to a hard hitting crescendo.  A sweeping instrumental section only adds to the ennobled scene.  Hope during times of suffering is the subject at hand:

As I walked in the shadows,
I felt the demons I bear,
Still haunting me all this time,
Pulling at the cross I bear
And when my time has come
And I am all done, all done
On earth, as it is, in heaven, as I kneel
Down before the cross I find peace

The classy “Light Replaces Darkness” brings to mind Sacred Warrior at its best (it would not sound out of place on Rebellion or Master’s Command).  A standout melody is projected by the song, reflected in the punchy bass line that holds sway over its distance and chorus that starts in a steadfast manner only to taper to a low key and ominous snarl at the end.  Credit Ski for the perfect control and emotional deliberation he exhibits.  “Light Replaces Darkness” depicts an individual who finds salvation:

Reflections of light begin,
To build up her faith in You
Vitalized by the truth of Your Son
Who once died on the cross,
She recalls a time, she once prayed,
For the Holy Spirit, to save her soul

When she believed Him,
And gave her all… The she was
Saved by the grace of God
The light replaces darkness
When light replaces darkness

The forward bass line continues into the beginning of “Armor Of God”.  The song proves a technical piece, maneuvering through a maze of time changes, some fast and up-tempo and others heading in a more mid-paced direction- with a forward rhythm guitar commanding the backdrop.  “Armor Of God” even tapers for quieter and calmer passages sustained acoustically.  All the while the scene is carried by occasional outbursts of double bass, high pitched falsettos and the bands trademark heavy duty backing vocals.  “Armor Of God” is another song about spiritual warfare:

The belt of Truth and Shield of Faith,
Are gifts to you, Victory
Protects you from,
The evil ones curse of sin

My feet ready for the path I choose,
My walk with Christ carries on
Breastplate, Righteousness defend the
Faith, and praise His name

“Divine Temptation” starts slowly to a keyboard solo that gives way to some angst laden riffs.  Taking off at an upbeat tempo upon reaching its first verse, the song briskly charges ahead only to make an even transition to a smoothly flowing chorus upheld by shouted vocal harmonies.  Nice display by the band of its instrumental sound.  As its title implies, “Divine Temptation” talks about Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness:

A long time ago, there was a traveler,
Who spent forty days and nights out in the desert,
Satan appeared, and he tempted him
“I’ll give you all the things you ever wanted”

Satisfaction, you crave and huger for,
Turn all these stones before you into bread then
Success off, the top of the Temple,
Before you hit the ground your God will save you

I will never ever follow
Prince of darkness
False prophet, father of lies

Progressive metal masterpiece “Ascend Unto Heaven” is certain to challenge for song of the year.  What stands out most about “Ascend Unto Heaven” is how it comes in at a perfect eleven minutes.  Now, often when a song is extended out past ten minutes my attention can begin to waver but not here in that “Ascend…” seamlessly flows from start to finish.  In other words, some songs are meant to be in the ten minute range and such is what we have in "Ascend Unto Heaven".

Musically, the song presents with time changes galore- too numerous to go into adequate detail.  But what I can tell you is that “Ascend…” features some heavy duty riffs at the start of its verse portions that transition to some melodic based moments.  Chorus wise, the atmosphere is majestic as the phrase “Ascend!  Ascend unto Heaven!” is repeated four times in dramatic fashion.  A lengthy instrumental section sustained by a driving rhythm guitar mixed with some quieter and calmer moments rounds things out.  “Ascend Unto Heaven” paints a picture of the nativity and the passion:

Born on this day, in Bethlehem,
The Lamb of God,
People gather at the celebration
For all mankind,
I hear the child’s laughter,
Three wise men will rejoice,
The Christian faith is forming;

“Holy Father, may this cup,
Be taken from me?”
“Holy Father, why have you forsaken me?”
She my blood, on the cross at Calvary,
Holes in my hands and my feet,
And with Pilate’s spear in my side,
Eternally I ascend…

Closing things out is “Sinner’s Prayer”, a spoken word piece in which the salvation message is conveyed.

Review by: Andrew Rockwell

Track Listing: “Evila Si Eh” (:55), “Keep It True” (5:20), “The Rapture” (4:36), “In God's Shadow” (5:05), “In Remembrance” (8:22), “Light Replaces Darkness” (5:24), “Armor Of God” (4:43), “Divine Temptation” (6:30), “Ascend Unto Heaven” (11:36), “Sinner's Prayer” (1:55)

Musicians
Norm “Ski” Kiersznowski – Lead Vocals
Chris “Moe” Matusieski – Guitars
Blaine “Priest” Booth – Guitars
Joe “Slayer Of Darkness” Manghan - Bass
Dan “Karaoke Kid” Jefferson - Drums

 

Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
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