|Musical Style: Melodic Power Metal||Produced By: Tommy ReinXeed|
|Record Label: Liljegren||Country Of Origin: Sweden|
|Year Released: 2011||Artist Website: ReinXeed|
|Tracks: 12||Rating: 85%|
|Running Time: 57:37|
One of the highest praises we can bestow on a metal or hard rock album is this: We feel immediately comfortable listening to it. And such is the case with 1912, the spring of 2011 Liljegren Records fourth full length album from Sweden’s ReinXeed. Recorded in follow up to the group’s first two albums on CMSweden, The Light (2008) and Higher (2009), and Liljegren debut Majestic (2010), 1912 finds ReinXeed continuing to take a foundation of melodic power metal and fusing it with elements of the epic and symphonic. The group also stays true to form in maintaining its penchant for non-stop double bass drumming, high end vocals, cinematic and orchestral overtures and shredding lead guitar work.
So what makes 1912 such an “immediately comfortable” listen? Well, one must first take a close look at the first three ReinXeed albums to gain understanding how the group has grown and matured musically over the years.
The Angelic Warlord review of The Light described it as “a project on the inconsistent side of things” and that featured a “mix that is out of balance” in which the “rhythm guitar often (ended up being) drowned out”. While ReinXeed made improvements songwriting wise on Higher (“more consistent and with stronger melodies throughout”), the group still struggled with production in that “the rhythm guitar can (still) at times get lost in the mix”. Majestic found ReinXeed starting to hit its stride by proving “the all around more consistent work from a songwriting standpoint” while featuring “production (that) represents a step forward in comparison to The Light and Higher”.
What The Light, Higher and Majestic, all good albums in their own right, hinted at, 1912 delivers by taking things to the next level in terms of songwriting, performance and production- and helps to create that immediately comfortable listening experience in the process!
1912, to put it bluntly, features perhaps the strongest collection of songs ever from ReinXeed. It starts with essential pieces such as “1912”, with its emphasis on the riff driven and instrumental, and “Farewell”, featuring some faster to slower (and back and forth) time signatures. Of equal note are “Spirit Lives On” and “Fall Of Man”, two heavy hitters that storm their distance at near breakneck speed. What these four have in common are standout melodies that almost come across Theocracy-like in capacity- and those that have heard the new Theocracy album, As The World Bleeds, know of what I speak in that the quality is of the same level.
ReinXeed delivers some solid speed metal romps as well, as can be found in the relentless tempos and double bass flurries of barnburners “The Final Hour”, “Terror Has Begun” and “We Must Go Faster”. “Through The Fire” sustains the blinding speed but mixed with some neo-classical elements while “The Voyage” plays up an orchestral feel with complementary baritone backing vocals.
While the previously referenced nine songs form the basis of a VERY solid ReinXeed album, the group, unfortunately, fails to maintain the quality throughout. You will find, for instance, two tracks that this reviewer considers to be on the medium to good side of things in “Challenge The Storm” (a song that can be somewhat of a challenge - no pun intended - to listen to as a result of approaching six and a half minutes) and “Reach For The Sky” (I have never been able to warm up to this one).
My observation is that the group might be overextending itself in the productivity department as a result of releasing four albums in as many years. Yes, credit founding member Tommy ReinXeed (formerly Johansson) for coming up with 44 songs in what amounts a short period of time (this does not account for his work in his other band Golden Resurrection). The outcome, however, is that a filler track or song on the average side of things occasionally slipping through the cracks. The best advise to give the artist would be to wait several years before putting out the next ReinXeed album in order to give yourself the time to come up with 10 to 11 great songs (in the same manner that Theocracy did between Mirror Of Souls and As The World Bleeds).
Production is a thing of beauty in showcasing a near perfect mix of pristine keyboards and crisp rhythm guitar. Keyboard work, ably done by Tommy ReinXeed, always highlights and textures without coming across overriding. He also forms a formidable guitar team with Calle Sundberg and Mattias Johansson. Tommy handles the majority of the soloing throughout, which has a decidedly neo-classical edge to it, although “The Final Hour” and “Terror Has Begun” find him getting involved in some skillful lead guitar duels with Sundberg and Johansson. Of course, having three guitarists in a band more often than not lends itself to a certain element of heaviness, and such is the case here in that 1912 is by far the heaviest of the four ReinXeed albums.
Vocally, what I said concerning the artist in my review of Majestic holds true here: “The artist maintains his penchant for clear and pristine vocals with a high end touch. Specifically, Johansson proves adept at going for a high note without overdoing it, as can be found in the occasionally falsetto he imbues the project. Fans of Ski (Faith Factor) Eli Prinsen (The Sacrificed) and Vett Roberts (Recon) will find his style much to their delight.”
It also deserves mention that 1912 is a concept album detailing the rise and fall of the might ship Titanic. Yes, the group offers a historical breakdown of the tragic events at hand, but they also go into detail about the turbulence of mankind and how it has not changed in 100 years since the Titanic sank in the Atlantic Sea.
Track By Track
The albums title track begins its first several minutes to an instrumental opening in which cinematic keyboards segue to a crash of resounding guitars. At that point the song takes off, moving forward expeditiously to galloping guitar riffs, perfectly placed keyboards and memorable chorus that has exquisite written all over it. A second instrumental stretch takes up another (satisfying) minute and a half. Lyric snippet:
She was said to be unsinkable
But she's made of iron
Nothing else could take her down
Until that tragic night
The number of lifeboats
Compared to the people on board
There's not enough room
For us all, half must die
The faster and more upbeat direction is taken on “The Final Hour”. With an animated rhythm section playing a prevailing role, the song powers its distance to big backing vocals in abundance (particularly during its animated chorus) and plenty of neo-classically influenced soloing to create a setting on the keyed-up side of things. I am almost reminded of Golden Resurrection as a result.
“Terror Has Begun” introduces some symphonic elements, as can be found in its classically influenced keyboards and choir-like vocal melodies. Mix in some rapid double bass and more galloping riffs with an anthem-like (almost majestic) feel and you are rewarded with one of the albums finer tracks. Lyric snippet:
Terror and fear crawls up your skin
When the surface draws you nearer
The bottom of the ocean drags you down
Like thousand knifes you feel the cold
The captain takes his whiskey
As he welcome his own destiny
"You're on your own" his last words
Now there's nothing we can do
What we have in “Spirit Lives On” is a seven minute masterpiece. This one proves quite listenable despite its length, hitting hard during its verses to more machine-gun like double bass, while smoothing for a highly melodic chorus aligning with the momentous scene at hand. In between, we are treated to as catchy a riff as you will find and a run of deftly played lead guitar during the instrumental stretch that carries two of the songs minutes.
Metal anthem “Through The Fire” proves a rousing piece. Starting at once to a flurry of guitars and acceleration, the song hits on all cylinders as it races front to back in near speed metal fashion. Along the way a breathtaking chorus in which Tommy exhibits the full range to his voice is encountered along with a blistering guitar solo. Lyric snippet:
Hear the band, they start to play
To calm them down but why?
Knowing that soon the ice-cold water
Reaches your heart
Then you feel it starts to burn
No matter which way you turn
Two hours or so then
It lies on the bottom sea
Traveling in third class then
Life boat's no option for you
So many people gone, so many lost
“The Fall Of Man” also establishes a furious tempo. Opening to several seconds of classical keyboards followed by a symphonic rhythm guitar, the song takes off to a storm of initiative that carries it through a perfectly done sweeping chorus (by far the albums finest) and verses upheld by a dark (almost swarthy) low end. Theocracy is the first name that comes to mind here.
"The Voyage" begins gently to woodwinds mixed with orchestral keyboards. A dramatic environs ensues as the song takes off at a decisive clip, evenly flowing momentum leading the way as a profound melody is reinforced along with period traces of baritone backing vocals sustaining the backdrop. Lyric snippet:
Welcome to all, climb aboard
To the biggest luxury that man has build
Sail far away for a new horizon, everyone's invited
All alone on the ocean they declined
The warnings that they've got
"Iceberg ahead, if you turn it's too late"
But no one cared
Left for sea that shiny day, no one saw her again
Carved in all our memories, we remember you
“We Must Go Faster”, as aptly entitled a piece as you will find, does exactly that. Determined and decisive, the song reminds me somewhat of Impellitteri (Screaming Symphony era) with its mixture of harpsichord (at least is what my ears are hearing) and tempo that has furious written all over it.
"Challenge The Storm" is another, albeit lengthy (almost too lengthy), barnburner. The song gives rise to more of Edlund’s high intensity drumming while establishing a front to back aural assault bordering on the relentless. But it is not all celerity in that quite the polished chorus (sustained by crystal clear backing vocals) can be found as well. Lyric snippet:
Take her to sea and further beyond
New distant skies and horizons
Hear me now, the maiden from
Ireland will sail across the sea
I have been told to steam up the heat
Faster we go with coal on our feet
Lightning strikes, so far away
But yet we are there
"Reach For The Sky", short but fleet, hits as hard as any piece here, with an intensely driven chorus and high end vocal approach from Tommy (this is the only track in which he overdoes it a bit, although not to the point of distraction). I enjoy the quieter passages at the halfway point in which guitars drop from the mix to allow keyboards to briefly lead the way.
"Farewell" represents another choice offering from ReinXeed. This one presents with some variances in tempo, ranging from the staunch mid-paced groove of its verses to the more up-tempo flavorings defining its emotionally charged chorus. All the while a prevalent melody makes its presence felt. Lyric snippet:
Ancient stories tell of curse
And damnation on the ship
The voyage of their dreams
Turned into the nightmares
As they tried to lean to starboard side
They were hit by the ice
There was no time to escape its destiny
So see now when the deepest of sea
Come to claim the ship to its fate
Closing things out is "Lost At Sea", a short "outro" instrumental carried by woodwinds and cinematic keyboards.
In the end, 1912 proves the most listenable of the four ReinXeed albums- at least that is this reviewer’s experience. Again, steps and strides have been made in terms of songwriting, production and performance to the extent that I see 1912 remaining on my playlist for time to come. Yes, a few tracks not quite on the same level as others but the better material here is fantastic and more than justifies purchasing the album. Highly recommended.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “1912” (6:21), “The Final Hour” (4:20), “Terror Has Begun” (4:45), “Spirit Lives On” (7:05), “Through The Fire” (3:58), “The Fall Of Man” (5:56), “The Voyage” (4:59), “We Must Go Faster” (3:19), “Challenge The Storm” (6:21), “Reach For The Sky” (3:48), “Farewell” (5:13), “Lost At Sea” (1:28)
Tommy ReinXeed - Lead Vocals, Guitars & Keyboards
Calle Sundberg - Guitars
Mattias Johansson - Guitars
Nic Svensson - Bass
Bjorn Edlund - Drums