|Musical Style: Neo-Classical Metal||Produced By:|
|Record Label: Doolittle Group||Country Of Origin: Sweden|
|Year Released: 2013||Artist Website: Golden Resurrection|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 80%|
The musical direction of One Voice For The Kingdom, the January of 2013 third full length album from Sweden’s Golden Resurrection, is spot-on: A continuance of the neo-classical power metal of the groups first two releases but mixed with strong hints of eighties influenced melodic metal and more expeditious speed metal. It’s assertive yet accessible- an unleashing of bombastic arrangements, virtuoso guitar work, incessant double bass and classically influenced keyboards that fans of early Narnia, Yngwie Malmsteem, Impellitteri, German Pascual and Divinefire will be certain to embrace.
The constant within the Golden Resurrection line-up remains founding member’s vocalist Christian Liljegren and guitarist Tommy ReinXeed. Liljegren, having fronted the first five Narnia albums, and Tommy, the mastermind behind his ReinXeed project, came together in 2008 as a result of their shared passion for melodic neo-classical power metal. The upshot is the group’s first two albums, the 2010 debut Glory To My King and follow-up effort Man With A Mission from 2011.
One Voice For The Kingdom represents the heavier and more up-tempo of the three, or at the very least since Glory To My King (Man With A Mission highlighted the bigger keyboard driven and mid-paced sound, observation and not critique either way).
This heaviness manifests itself in the albums faster material, including the near speed metal direction taken on “The Temple Will Remain”, a palatial romper rating with the group’s best, and “Spirit War”, even more aggressive with knife-like guitar riffs and powering double bass. Maintaining the vitality are relentless sluggers “Golden Resurrection” and “Born For The Stranger”, with the former playing up the explosive feel to its chorus and latter an instrumental heavy proclivity.
The more melodically driven material here flexes its muscles as well, as is aptly demonstrated on the albums smoothly flowing title track (with pristine feel and galloping momentum to match) and bass heavy, mid-paced plodder “Night Light” (slower but by no means less notable). “God’s Mercy”, also mid-paced, approaches the bluesy with its gritty guitar riffs and seventies influenced organ.
Front man Christian Liljegren continues to sing with equal parts heart and character in staying within a lower register, at least in comparison to some power metal vocalists. Yes, he can reach for a high note or cut loose with a periodic scream (such as on “The Temple Will Remain”), but it his more mid-ranged qualities which set him apart from the rest (in terms of how the power metal genre is concerned).
Guitarist Tommy ReinXeed proves responsible for that heavier Golden Resurrection sound. More than adequate rhythm guitar abounds throughout, but it is his soloing which truly shines. Fittingly, the albums instrumental moments best reflect the group’s neo-classical touch, as can be found on the instrumental opening to “Born For The Stranger” or scintillating leads of “Golden Resurrection” and “God’s Mercy”. Instrumental “Heavenly Metal” features some of his most deft work, ranging from spot-on soloing to harmonies and melodies of a distinguished nature.
But it is not just Liljegren and Tommy in that strong performances are also put in by keyboardist Svenne Jansson and drummer Alfred Fridhagen. Jansson’s keyboards allow for just the right amount of polish (one cannot help but appreciate his keyboard solo on “Heavenly Metal”), while Fridhagen proves a juggernaut behind the drum kit. Of note, is the “natural” drum sound in which no triggers were made use of.
Complaints are few and far between. Vocals are mixed a bit forward on “Can’t Slow Down”, the lone track here not to do it for me (chorus lacks the constant hook to draw me in). Production, otherwise, is excellent, with album mix by Ronny Milianowicz, who has worked with the likes of Hammerfall, Primal Fear, Michael Kiske and others.
“Moore Lord”, the albums second instrumental, is solid but also a bit out of place in reflecting a blues driven rock approach. See the track by track for more details, but I would much rather have heard a neo-classical metal vocal piece in its place instead.
One Voice For The Kingdom adds up to a very good album that scores a notch below its predecessors (each of which received an 85% grade). Perhaps it is better continuity of the first two, but One Voice For The Kingdom includes one skip button (“Can’t Slow Down”) and an instrumental (“Moore Lord”) going in a different direction than the rest of the album. The overall feeling left is that One Voice For The Kingdom features its share of choice material but is also a song or two away from receiving a higher score. Which leads to the point I am trying to make: After recording three albums in as many years (One Voice For The King was first released in Japan in late 2012), perhaps it would be better if the group took a two to three year hiatus from recording in order to come up with 10 to 11 equally good songs and deliver a great album (in the 90% range) in the process.
Track By Track
“The Temple Will Remain” gets things going in high energy fashion, unleashing a full-on frenetic tempo with heavy set guitars and romping low-end to match. Liljegren aligns with the furious setting with several high end screams while Tommy shines equally well with his classically influenced playing throughout. It adds up to one of the better cuts in the group’s repertoire.
“Spirit War” is another barnburner. This one brings non-stop double bass galore but also adding texturing keyboard for the backdrop, decelerating (if only just slightly) for its grand and stately verses only to explode for the expansive feel to its non-stop chorus. The group’s trademark neo-classical elements come to the forefront for an extensive instrumental section.
A merging of smoother flavorings hinting of the mid-paced and a galloping low-end characterize the albums title track. “One Voice For The Kingdom”, otherwise, proves powerful and expansive in standing out with the decisive flavorings to its worshipful chorus. Also even and refined, this one hints of classy melodic metal with some accessible overtones.
Metal anthem “Night Light” tapers the pace even further. A big bass line underpins things here, adding to what amounts a pristine setting in which a victorious chorus lightened by keyboards plays a leading role. Keyboards return to enhance an instrumental section carried by more emblazoned lead guitar.
“Golden Resurrection” brings a well timed upbeat tempo. This one starts quietly to piano before a heavy set guitar wall crashes in, combining with frenetic double bass to set a mercurial tone that has dogged written all over it. The show stopping chorus maintains the expeditious focus, as does the instrumental passage in which lead guitar and keyboards duel.
After opening to five near perfect neo-classical metal tunes, things take somewhat of a down turn with “Can’t Slow Down”. No, not bad but also not up to the standards of the rest of the material here either. Part of the problem, again, is the mix, which showcases vocals a bit too prominently, while chorus is not engaging as some. What I do like is the minute long instrumental opening carried by open air guitar feedback.
Upon discovering Golden Resurrection was recording a song entitled “Heavenly Metal” my first instinct was to call the Christian metal cliché police. Heavenly metal? Where have WE heard this before? Out of fairness I gave the song a chance and ended up VERY surprised to find a high quality neo-classical shred instrumental. Tommy, as one might imagine, takes every opportunity to tear up the fret board with some soloing ranging from the refined to the blistering and harmonies of a near mesmerizing capacity.
Determined, staunch and steadfast, mid-paced metal piece “God’s Mercy” rates with the albums heaviest. It starts with the hammering guitar riffs front to back but also encompasses what amounts nothing less a heavy footed drum sound (Fridhagen is at his best here). Some pleasing organ makes its presence felt as fell, particularly during what amounts quite the distinguished and palatial chorus. This one proves Golden Resurrection can be equally adept whether taking a faster or slower heading.
Back to borderline speed metal with “Born For The Strangers”. The albums longest at just under six minutes, the song starts to a creative two minute instrumental opening running the gamut from the frantic to the tranquil to open air guitar. Otherwise, “Born For The Strangers” sets the hurried pace in which Golden Resurrection is best known, with blinding riffs galore and militant double bass set the stage. A second instrumental portion finds organ making a tasteful appearance.
Closing things out is instrumental “Moore Lord”. This one takes a blues driven approach when compared to “Heavenly Metal”, with forward keyboards playing a fitting role in addition to guitars dripping of feeling and emotion. At this point it must be noted it is not the quality of the music I question but rather the direction that while quite good, the song also sounds out of place when placed alongside the rest of the albums material.
No, I do not consider the song “filler” - Tommy stands out in showcasing a side to his playing we have not seen in the past (if he recorded an entire album in this direction I would buy it). Rather my overall feeling is that another neo-classical vocal track might have been the better route to go. This is can be summed up when earlier I advised “perhaps it would be better if the group took a two to three year hiatus from recording in order to come up with 10 to 11 equally good songs and deliver a great album in the process.”
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “The Temple Will Remain” (4:54), “Spirit War” (5:06), “One Voice For The Kingdom” (3:57), “Night Light” (5:11), “Golden Resurrection” (5:12), “Can’t Slow Down” (4:50), “Heavenly Metal” (4:03), “Gods Mercy” (4:02), “Born For The Strangers” (5:56), “Moore Lord” (5:46)
Christian Liljegren - Lead Vocals
Tommy ReinXeed - Guitars & Orchestration
Svenne Jansson - Hammond Organ & keyboards
Steven K - Bass
Alfred Fridhagen - Drums