|Musical Style: Metal & Hard Rock||Produced By:|
|Record Label: Independent||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2013||Artist Website: Razorigami|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 75%|
|Running Time: 42:47|
Weathering The Winter Of The Soul, the spring of 2013 full length debut of vocalist Luke Richard Weber’s Razorigami project, was a tough nut to crack. At face value, it has the appearance of an eighties metal and hard rock album - the artists press material offers up “Petra, Whitecross, Shout, Guardian and everything the Elefante boys ever did with Pakaderm Records” as comparison - but despite similarities in style and form, we found differences with repeat listen. No doubt Weathering The Winter Of The Soul draws upon an eighties influence, any likeness to the previously referenced artists is not without merit, but it can also touch upon classic metal, the power/progressive side of things and even some modern aspects.
The main calling card to Razorigami is Luke Richard Weber’s high octane and multifarious vocal abilities. To say that he is one of the up and coming vocal talents in the metal and hard rock world would be an understatement. His strength lies in his ability to mix things up and do everything exceedingly well in the process, beginning with his foundation of the tough as nails mid-ranged but also highlighting the ability to extend for a high note with ease- and bring the heart and soul of Axl Rose (Guns N’ Roses) when need calls for it. Conversely, he can reach low and add some rumbling power along the lines of Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden) and Mike Lee (Barren Cross) or even hint of the attitude and sass of Brian Johnson (AC/DC) and Scott Wenzel (Whitecross). The upshot being how he reflects the influences of many to create his own manifold style that can best be described as intense, impassioned and on the gut level side of things.
What proves scary is how Weber is only going to get better in that Weathering The Winter Of The Soul finds him touching upon the potential in terms of what he is capable. But mark my words in that he is destined for greater things in the years ahead- it is simply a matter of matching him with the right songs and musicians to bring out that potential in question. Think in terms of an NFL teams number one draft choice that hints of his capabilities during his rookie season but does not reach and exceed them until his subsequent years in the league.
Musically, Weather The Winter Of The Soul also presents with its share of variety. Yes, there is a heavy eighties slant here, as can be found in the laid back early nineties Bride-like swagger of “Ride Strong” and AC/DC meets Whitecross gritty hard rocker “The Culprit (Burn Devil, Burn)”. “Recidivism” delivers a big dose of low-end groove in bringing to mind the heavier material from Bloodgood (with pumping bass line to match). When branching out the artist can also touch upon classic metal, as can be found in the non-stop energy and knife edged riffs of “Memorita”, and power metal, reflected in the regal and stalwart lacings to “Holy Fire”. Eight minute epic “Of Tree And Truth” even brings a progressive based sound as a result of its intricate time signatures.
The only downturn occurs on the albums three modern tracks, including the spirited “Forward”, mid-tempo “Pseudo Sacred Circus” and worshipful “Savior”. Those whose tastes trend towards the modern side of things will embrace them (and can increase the final grade by 5% as a result); I find them bland and tend to balk. The key point being that it is crucial for an artist to understand both his strengths and how to play to them in order to create a well rounded a work as possible. In other words a few less modern tracks and a couple more eighties hard rockers would have gone a long way towards a higher score (my opinion only).
Production is up to the standards of the better material here: Clean and crisp in allowing all instrumentation to stand out, particularly bass. Guitars deliver the wallop required of music of this capacity. Give credit to mastering technician “Pastor” Brad Windlan, whose solo albums have received several favorable Angelic Warlord reviews, for his quality work here.
Packaging, consisting of a single sided insert, falls short. It is not just that purple lettering over a dark background can be difficult to read, but also that no mention is made of the musicians performing on the album. The only note is a vague reference to “all instruments courtesy of the talented boys at Big Fish Audio”. Actually, this is not a bad thing in that it means I do not know who to specifically pick on, at least as far as lead guitar is concerned. The problem being that the album features little in the way of distinguishable lead guitar work; and what soloing there is fails to stand out as it should.
It has been my experience that the easiest way to bring out the best in a good vocalist is to match him with a good guitarist. Scott Wenzel and Rex Carroll (Whitecross) come to mind as does Rob Rock and Chris Impellitteri. Several talented vocalists have joined forces with guitarist Joshua Perahia, included the aforementioned Rock and Mark Boals. In looking forward perhaps Weber can follow the same pattern by also aligning with a guitarist if equal ability (Hint: The talented “Pastor” Brad Windlan, whom the artist is already acquainted, would make an excellent choice!).
Lyrics capture the forthright spirit of the eighties Christian metal movement in leaving little doubt as to the nature of the project and faith of the artist.
The stronger material to Weathering The Winter Of The Soul is top notch and makes you wish there were a bit more of it. Hence, I would like to encourage the artist to drop the modern elements and focus on a classic eighties sound (or therein) on any project he records in the future. Likewise, he is one of the understated new vocal talents to hit the scene in recent years- so it makes sense to turn Razorigami into a full piece band by recruiting a talented guitarist to complement his abilities. I greatly look forward to hearing the artist’s next project.
Track By Track
“Memorita” might be a bit short at just over two minutes but makes effective use of its time. A high energy rocker, the song melds a chugging bass line with knife edged riffs galore to create a bristling scene that has traditional metal written all over it. In the end what we have here is a very effective album opener.
“Ride Strong” proves up-tempo and moving in form. The song grooves front to back, with a profound hook that refuses to go away backed by the intense falsettos the artists is best known. The only tempered moments occur when initiative slows as the bass moves to the front of the mix. The hook and groove here cannot help but bring to mind classic Bride at its best. Lyric snippet:
We are the keepers of the one true faith
We will press on as the hour grows late
We’ve come too far to side with wrong
‘Til Kingdom come we will ride strong
We ride strong to the setting sun
We ride strong ’til Jesus comes
We ride strong and endure the pain
We ride strong ’cause our death is gain
“The Culprit (Burn Satan, Burn)” maintains the vitality with a spirited but gritty AC/DC aspect here, at least for the non-stop scorching chorus. Verses might relax just a bit but shred all the same. The lone cheesy moment occurs at three and a half minutes in when the artists continually chants “burn-burn-burn-burn-burn-burn-devil-burn” (which comes across a bit too heavy handed for my taste). Still, X-Sinner and GX Project could not have done this better.
Inexplicably, on “Forward” the album makes a turn towards a plodding modern based direction. No, far from bad but not quite as interesting as the previous three either. The problem lies in how the muscular hooks and all out energy end up tempered to a fault. Perhaps the modern flavorings are too prevalent? Either way, the same power and message makes its presence felt. Lyric snippet:
All the good God’s got in store for me
It’s the last thing they want me to see
The enemy’s real, they play on my feelings
And tell me I’ll never be free
But I’m walkin’ on; I’m movin’ forward
Today the dead bury the dead
I’m ridin’ on; I’m movin’ forward
Pressin’ on for the glory ahead
I’m movin’ on…
“Pseudo Sacred Circus” maintains the modern leanings albeit at the more upbeat tempo. Again, not bad but not entirely engaging either in that I would much rather prefer the artists play to his strengths, which is high energy hard rock with resounding hooks.
“Recidivism” is more along the line of the artist’s potential. The song starts dark and ominous to a plunging bass line prior to kicking into high gear. The meaty guitar riff that takes over sets the forthright tone, as high intensity vocal lines and every bit as much an impassioned chorus set the radiant tone. Aggressive but with a sense of melody, this one represents Razorigami at its best. Lyric snippet:
Who saves me from this body of death?
The Lamb who cleanses all the earth
It’s a slippery slope, but by God there’s hope
The blood of Christ is where I find my worth
Such a sanitized dirty word
In and out of prison
It ain’t no glamour, I don’t care what you’ve heard
Back to a modern direction with “Savior”, a worship flavored rocker with a penchant for the mid-tempo. Similar to the other modern tracks this one comes across a bit plain and subsequently struggles to hold up. Some heartfelt energy and metal muscle is required here, particulars in which Razorigami specializes. Lyric snippet:
There’s a thirst for righteousness inside my soul
There’s a hunger deep within for holiness I can’t ignore
But the world would see me stained
Flaming arrows fall like rain
Even brave men fall apart
In an age of endless dark
Jesus, Beautiful One won’t you save me?
I know there’s no hope outside of your glory!
Oh Savior, rip out this black heart renew me!
Cast out all of these devils I can’t see
“Holy Fire”, in contrast, delivers the goods with its throwback power metal lacings. Distinguished and palatial, this one comes across decisive in form with its all encompassing chorus and majestic splendor on full display. Interestingly, vocals take a more refined and smoother approach, while the bouncing riff action sets the battering tone. Lyric snippet:
Holy tongues of fire fall
Light the dungeons of my mind
Break these chains as freedom calls
Let me leave myself behind
Holy Fire Human nature in me tame
Holy Fire Let me glorify your name
Holy Fire Never let me be the same
Holy Fire Fill me with Your holy flame
Eight minute “Of Tree And Truth” introduces some progressive elements. Time changes galore will be found here, starting with the calm, acoustic laced opening that moves in dramatic fashion to the heavy set guitars that kick in after two minutes. The roaring thunderstorm that follows transitions to the more aggressive and forthright leaning that propels the song to its close. Great epic, dramatic based track that rates with the albums finest. Lyric snippet:
Sovereign over kingdoms of men
His dominion is eternal
His kingdom generations it spans
Commanding the armies of heaven
I praise and I honor, extol
The Almighty King of Heaven
Whose works are truth and His ways justice
Able to put down the proud
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Focus” (1:01) “Memorita” (2:07), “Ride Strong” (4:18), “The Culprit (Burn Satan, Burn)” (4:26), “Forward” (5:04), “Pseudo Sacred Circus” (3:26), “Recidivism” (3:51), “Savior” (5:48), “Holy Fire” (4:49), “Of Tree And Truth” (7:50)
Luke Richard Weber - Lead Vocals
The talented boys at Big Fish Audio - All instrumentation