|Musical Style: Melodic Metal/Hard Rock||Produced By: Ty Sims|
|Record Label: Independent||Country Of Origin: US|
|Year Released: 2012||Artist Website: Millennial Reign|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 85%|
|Running Time: 41:11|
For many of us, life is full of mundane and boring functions we would much rather avoid: We mow the lawn, wash the dishes and pay the bills and so on. However, at just the moment it seems there is no longer any fun left to life, hope comes for the metal and hard rock faithful in the form of a talented new group in Millennial Reign. Made up of members from Little Rock, Arkansas and the Dallas-Forth Worth area, Millennial Reign started as a studio project of vocalist Trae Doss, guitarist Dave Harvey and drummer Bryan Diffee but later turned into a live performing act when the three recruited bassist Harm Wilson.
The winter of 2012 find Millennial Reign independently releasing its self-titled debut full length. The group presents with a heavily eighties influenced sound that amalgamates a variety of styles, including melodic metal and hard rock, melodic rock/AOR and traditional metal to create a project characterized by its consistency, continuity and professionalism.
Consistency comes in the form of songwriting in that Millennial Reign has penned 9 surefire full length songs that hold up under repeated play. Standouts include melodic based pieces, “Broken” and “Lost In Vegas”, with the former playing up some slower to faster changes and latter a wealth of huge, polished vocal melodies. When the group takes a heavier stance the quality fails to diminish, as aptly demonstrated on the mid-paced sounds to “Run For Your Life” (due to its dogged mentality) and “Fire By Night” (staunchly riff driven) in addition to up-tempo leanings of “We Are The Ones” (with its youthful vitality) and “Always” (smooth but substantial). You will also encounter a couple straight on hard rockers, with “Left Alone” bringing a raw and edgy sound and “Everyday” some groove based qualities. Rounding things out is the tempered and subdued mindset distinguishing “Live Forever”.
Direct comparisons are problematic - Millennial Reign has its own unique sound - but you will find hints of Stryper in the groups layered vocal melodies while its penchant for the guitar driven points towards Whitecross and Eternal Ryte (or perhaps Stryper’s heavier material). Keyboards are put to effective use to the extent Daniel Band (Run From The Darkness era) comes to mind. If bands to hit the scene in recent years are your cup of tea - and by that I mean Harmony, Audiovision and Shining Star - then I can see Millennial Reign also being of interest. One of the group’s defining qualities stands out as a result: And that is its ability to prove relevant to both the present and the past.
Continuity is represented as a result of overall band performance. It starts with the even, mid-ranged to high vocal presence of Trae Doss. Whether singing in a smooth sounding style or adding a touch of low-key grit, he remains perfectly in line with the musical happenings at hand. Backing up Doss is guitarist Dave Harvey, who stands out as a result of his ability to imbue each track with the right riff or tight sounding harmony while allowing for soloing of a melodic nature (think Tony Palacios or David Zaffiro). Drummer Bryan Diffee and bassist Harm Wilson round out the Millennial Reign line-up in fine form.
Professionalism can be traced to production and packaging. Production strength resides in a level of refinement that allows each instrument to rise above the mix: Leads and drums are cleanly defined while there are moments in which the bass literally breathes of life. It does not get much better as far as independent releases are concerned. Equally notable is the eye catching album artwork, which highlights a spiritual warfare or medieval battle theme.
Lyrics are intelligently done in making statements of faith without hitting you over the head. Consider “Broken” and its line “I’m not running any more. If You’ll open up the door I promise I’ll come running. With arms wide open”. “Run For Your Life” asks several questions (“What have I to show? What is this mystery inside? What was I supposed to know? What was I to find?”) but provides answers in the end (“Master is calling. Run for your life”). “Live Forever” is self explanatory from a lyrical standpoint: “If you want to live forever there’s a better way. I’m reaching out to you, but you don’t hear a word I say. If you want to live forever there’s just one way to go”. “Fire By Night” even provides a treatise on Exodus 3:8: “Delivered out of Egypt’s hands/We were led into the promised land”.
One cannot help but be impressed with how Millennial Reign has spared no expense and overlooked no detail to create what is nothing less a quality work. The group, in other words, sets the standard as far as independent releases are concerned. Which begs the following question: What are you doing trapped in the same boring routine when you could instead be listening to the full length debut from Millennial Reign?
Track By Track
“The Ascension” is a short (1:41) instrumental sustained by acoustic guitar and melodic guitar harmony.
“Broken” is as good as it gets. The song moves its length transitioning between galloping riffs and calmer passages upheld by acoustic guitar, setting the stage for what is to follow on the album with its emphasis on commanding momentum and draw you in melody. Somehow I am reminded of History era Xalt.
A more forthright heading is taken on “We Are The Ones”. An aggressive and churning milieu can be found here, reflected in the heavy hitting feel to the guitars and driving undercurrents that carry quite the assertive low end. Standing in contrast is the positive and uplifting feel to the chorus. Rob Rock would feel at home performing this one.
Pristine keyboards layered over staunch rhythm guitars carry “Run For Your Life” its distance. Yes, this one can hit quite hard but mirrors some lighter touches as well, as can be found in the polished vocal melodies that sustain its imposing chorus. The scintillating lead work aligns with the sublime scene.
“Left Alone” represents a return to up-tempo territory. What we have here is a rawer and more straightforward hard rocking side to Millennial Reign, with keyboards largely gone and replaced by chugging guitars and a heavy footed drum sound. The overall feel is classic Rez Band.
The focused momentum is maintained on “Always”. With keyboards returning to accent the backdrop, the song relaxes some for its groove driven verses but regains the initiative for an inspired chorus in which Dross gives rise to the full breadth of his voice. Instrumentally, “Always” shins in running the gamut from radiant soloing to pristine guitar harmony.
“Fire By Night” slows things to a mid-paced romp. Heavy is the word here, as in hulking riffs that play the defining role along with nothing less a pulsating bass line from Harm Wilson. The end result is a slow and driving piece performed with a great deal of emotion. Actually, what we have here is one of my favorite tracks off the album.
“Live Forever” takes the more subdued heading. The song starts acoustically before kicking into high gear, highlighting ample rhythm guitar but not quite the extent as the albums heavier material. A generous melody can also be found here with the overall feel along the lines of Canada’s Daniel Band.
Big touches of low-end groove characterize “Everyday”. Weighty, unwavering and settled as it gets, the song maneuvers its way in stable fashion to tight guitar harmonies and a mid-paced proclivity that approaches the prevailing. A fittingly staunch chorus is upheld by heavy set backing vocals. Yes, this one is no-nonsense but listenable at the same time.
Things close strongly to showstopper “Lost In Vegas”. What we have here is a somber and earnest piece, characterized by its laid back flavorings (not unlike “Live Forever” it is not as heavy as some here) while playing up a melody of a near commercial capacity. Further helping to define the song are the multi-layered vocal melodies and some technically done drum work.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “The Ascension” (1:41), “Broken” (5:25), “We Are The Ones” (4:06), “Run For Your Life” (4:17), “Left Alone” (3:40), “Always” (4:37), “Fire By Night” (4:26), “Live Forever” (4:15), “Everyday” (4:34), “Lost in Vegas” (4:05)
Lead Vocals - Trae Doss
Dave Harvey - Guitars & Keyboards
Harm Wilson - Bass
Bryan Diffee - Drums