|Musical Style: Heavy Metal||Produced By: Lucky Santana|
|Record Label: Independent||Country Of Origin: Brazil|
|Year Released: 2011||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 55%|
|Running Time: 54:25|
This reviewer has found the Christian metal scene in Brazil to be hit and miss over the years. From the latter standpoint, the region has produced a long line of bands - Dracma, Seven Angels, Belica, Stauros, Sunroad, Adiastasia and others - that lacked the acumen to release a complete album. In many instances music and production were fine but vocals were deficient, while in others everything else was done properly but songwriting failed to hold up. A few cases found all aspects of the recording falling through the cracks and nothing getting accomplished.
In terms of the former, however, several gems have come out of the area. The first to deserve mention is Menahem, who perfected the Symphony X progressive meets power metal sound on its 2008 debut Angels & Shadows. Shining Star also merits consideration for the melodic hard rock of its 2000 initial offering Fatal Mistake and even better 2005 melodic power metal follow up Enter Eternity. Destra might have gotten off to a shaky start with Sea Of Doubt from 2000 but delivered a classic in 2004 with the stunning progressiveness of Joe’s Rhapsody.
As a result of the inconsistencies and erratic nature of the scene at hand, one can understand my skepticism when approached about the most recent group from Brazil, The Lamb. Hailing from São Paulo, The Lamb is the brainchild of bassist Lucky Santana, who, despite an ever revolving line-up, put out the debut demo Days Of Revelation in 2004 prior to regrouping - with more band turnover at hand - seven years later with the full length effort Keys Of Treasure.
What we have in The Lamb is traditional and classic metal with a heavy NWOBHM influence. This is the good news in that Keys Of Treasure otherwise proves an overall sloppily executed and haphazardly put together effort.
It starts with production, which has that “mid-eighties demo recorded in a garage on a Sunday afternoon” feel. The problem revolves around a muddy mix that leaves the low-end little room to breath and much of the instrumentation struggling to stand out (drums are difficult to discern). The overall impression left is thin and watered down.
Lead vocals represent another area of concern. Front man Nickson often struggles in sounding forced, off-key or horribly strained. The upshot is a vocal performance going in a completely different direction than the music, which, as one might imagine, can be a bit distracting. Someone along the lines of Mike Lee (Barren Cross) or Josh Kramer (Saint) is needed here.
What I find disappointing about this scenario is that Keys Of Treasure actually has some fine moments musically. The Lamb, as a matter of fact, displays a deft songwriting touch that cannot help but make one feel the group potentially (the key word here) has a promising future in front of it.
Again, The Lamb brings a classic/traditional metal sound but can mix in some variety as well. “The Trumpet, the Judgement” and “C.Y.S.”, for instance, introduce some power metal aspects while also upholding one of the groups inherit strengths: And that is to extend a song into the six and seven minute range without coming across contrived or overdoing it in the progressive department.
Further adding to the albums versatility is how The Lamb plays up some doom elements, as it does on the aptly entitled “Dark Dream”, and even a bluesy hard rock touch on “Far From Home” (Bride fans will embrace this one) and “No Rest For The Wicked” (plenty of 70s style organ here). A melodic metal direction is even taken on “End Of Days”.
Aside from a couple of predictable “intro” and “outro” pieces, a filler in “J Salvation Comes” and boring eight minute keyboards ballad “Keys Of Treasure”, there is nothing to complain about from a musical standpoint.
It also must be noted strength of musicianship. It starts with the talented guitar duo of Clei Detilli and Silas “The Gulliver”, who combined for some very intense and intricately done lead guitar work. If the soloing from “Far From Home” and “C.Y.S.” does not draw your attention then I do not know what will. The two bestow some riveting harmonies throughout as well. Lucky Santana also proves adept with his surgically precise bass lines (his work standing out best on “End Of Days”).
Lyrically, the group’s heart is in the right place with the forthright direction taken. The problem, however, is that the Portuguese to English translation can get a bit disjointed in places (see the track by track for more details).
A good measure of the 55% grade reflects shortcomings in the areas of production and lead vocals, key particulars in which this reviewer can struggle to see beyond when not done properly. That being said, the reason The Lamb does not find itself even deeper within the Angelic Warlord doghouse - and receives a lower grade in the process - can be attributed to its ability to come up with some creditable material. Hence, if it can solve its vocal and production problems, I can see The Lamb potentially (again, the key word) making the same steps and strides made by Destra between its first and second albums.
Track By Track
“Laus Deo” runs its brief (2:00) distance to narration (with a thunderstorm in the backdrop) that segues to female vocals and acoustic guitar.
“The Trumpet, the Judgement” delivers the goods, with galloping riffs, frenetic double bass and blistering guitar soloing leading the way. When impetus drops off, it is for a momentous chorus in which a victorious message is upheld:
The clouds will be opened
And He will appear on the throne
With the book in His Hand
The fire in His eyes
Standing before Him the living and the dead, the judgement
In the end what we have is a compelling hybrid of traditional and power metal.
A more upbeat heading is taken on “End Of Days”. This one traverses melodic metal territory as tight guitar harmonies and smoothly flowing chorus interwoven with backing vocals play defining roles. Once more The Lamb gives us a demonstration of its instrumental prowess, while Lucky Santana puts on a clinic with his trenchant bass lines. Lyric snippet:
There is still a chance to accept His name
There is still a chance to be with the Son of Man
The decision must be made
Before the grace be expired and then
The Lamb will return to war
And anyone who denies Him will be forever lost
May your decision be honest now
And you won’t be with those who will fall down
“Dark Dream” represents the more low-key and all around heavier track. The song plods with an almost doom-like presence, with a preeminent low-end and hard hitting riffs abounding, but it is not all angst in that quite the profound melody stands out as well. What we have is a choice example of The Lamb songwriting abilities.
Back to up-tempo territory with “Far From Home”, a gritty and scratchy blues laced hard rocker that would do early nineties Bride proud. Some guts and gravel is bestowed from Nickson (his best vocal performance on the album), particularly during the songs tough as nails chorus. A calmer and quieter passage at the halfway point gives way to a lengthy stretch of blistering soloing. Lyric snippet:
You keep lying for everyone
Your shine is fading away
You feel the weight of the world
Seeing the distance, you’re getting so far
From the people you really love
Pearls in your hand, fistful of pain
You know you can be discovered
Everything will be revealed at the set time
“C.Y.S.” presents a weighty, driving and forceful sound. Momentum is spirited and setting furious while chorus flows with a galloping but melody driven presence certain to pull you in at once. Helping make this the albums best track is the intense hammer-on driven lead work and non-stop bass lines of Lucky Santana.
“J Salvation Comes” starts as if a ballad with some quietly played guitar and piano carrying the opening. Impetus, however, soon picks up to rhythm guitar and keyboards as things take a straightforward hard rock heading the rest of the way. Drawbacks come in the form of a particularly weak chorus and forced vocal performance. Lyric snippet:
We stand strong and fight, J salvation comes
We’re bringing the good news for everyone who feels
The need of change the story
Of life before comes the valley of death
Now with strength fighting day by day
With no scratch
The defense of the enemy
Fall before the rest
“No Rest For The Wicked” rates with the albums best. What we have here is a blues drenched rocker, staunch and scratchy and dropping with seventies style organ- sort of like Modest Attraction or Sarepta. Chorus is equally compelling in that the band settles into a laid back and relaxed groove. When The Lamb hits the nail on the head musically they are as good as it gets.
Very rarely do I have the patience for lengthy keyboard based ballads and such is the case with the albums title track. We’ll just say that “Keys Of Treasure” is eight minutes too long, while vocals fail to fit the music at hand. Lyric snippet:
Why do I put my faith on treasures?
That steals away the keys of my home
Walking the way on a dusty road
Wandering about something I have lost
I don’t know, A feeling of death fills my mind
Falling on my bed
Peace fortunes cannot buy
Left here on my own
Where are the friends I used to know?
“Prelude For Words” is a short (2:16) “outro” piece carried by acoustic guitar, keyboards and vocal melodies.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Laus Deo” (3:12), “The Trumpet, the Judgement” (5:48), “End Of Days” (3:40), “Dark Dream” (5:36), “Far From Home” (6:09), “C.Y.S.” (7:09), “J Salvation Comes” (6:58), “No Rest For The Wicked” (6:37), “Keys Of Treasure” (8:09), “Prelude For Words” (2:16)
Nickson - Lead Vocals
Clei Detilli - Guitars
Silas “The Gulliver” - Guitars
Lucky Santana - Bass
Samuka Drum - Drums
Mr. Shark - Keyboards