|Musical Style: Melodic Power Metal||Produced By:|
|Record Label: Doolittle||Country Of Origin: Sweden|
|Year Released: 2013||Artist Website: ReinXeed|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 90%|
Yes, cover artwork is lime green and song titles such as “Guitar Hero” and “Northern Allstars” invite ire from the metal cliché police, but A New World, the summer of 2013 sixth full length album from Sweden’s ReinXeed, is not to be taken lightly. A New World represents the culmination of what has been a steep and uphill climb for ReinXeed, having persevered through the growing pains of its first two albums, The Light (2008) and Higher (2009), and better but far from perfect third, Majestic (2010). Where it started to come together for the group - from a production, performance and songwriting standpoint - was on its two most recent offerings in 1912 (2011) and Welcome To The Theater (2012).
A New World finds ReinXeed taking it to the next level. It begins with songwriting, which reflects the steps and strides the group continues to make in terms of crafting material that is mature and engaging while staying true to its melodic power metal roots at the same time. Yes, 1912 and Welcome To The Theater had their good moments (and I stand by my positive reviews of both), but A New World sets itself apart with a consistency and front to back cohesiveness not always present on past ReinXeed releases (my opinion only).
Speed metal continues to be a major influence with ReinXeed. “Into The Darkness”, with its mercurial tempo and galloping riffs, and “Final Destination”, mixing aspects of the neo-classical and tempestuous, reflect this best. “Distant Horizon” and “The Star” uphold the expeditious mentality but blended with baritone backing vocals (former) and bombastic elements (latter).
The better A New World material is its most progressive. “Curse And Damnation” is fast as anything here but with greater technical fortitude, while “Chalice Of Time” comes across as a creative hybrid of Golden Resurrection and Kansas. The albums intricate nine minute title track runs the gamut from the epic to the symphonic to the jazzy to the baritone. A huge melody basis remains the common denominator between the three.
The album also finds ReinXeed throwing a few unexpected curveballs. “Guitar Hero” cranks up the heaviness to the point of traditional metal, while “Northern Allstars” plays up a melodic metal aspect with its abundant backing vocals and mirthful tempo. It adds to the albums versatility that ReinXeed is willing to explore previously unheard musical territory.
Lone song not to do it for me is the slowest, “The Journey Home”. Perhaps ReinXeed is out of its element with the accelerator not jammed to the floor, but the songs mid-paced leanings lend an awkward feel. Not that I can fault the group in this capacity: A Porsche 911GT2 RS probably does not run all that smoothly in first gear either!
Founding member Tommy ReinXeed maintains his pristine and high end lead vocal penchant. Similar to songwriting, his style has matured over the years in that he knows when to lend a lower register to his delivery or let loose with a high end falsetto, albeit not overdoing it either way. He combines with Alex Oriz for guitar duties, the two lending to the albums speed based nature with their fast paced riffing and equally fleet soloing (“Distant Horizon” and “The Star” are examples of what the two are capable). Tommy adds further dept to the bands sound with his every present (but not to a fault) keyboard work.
Transparent production ties everything together in allowing for a presence filled guitar mix and conspicuous low-end (credit bassist Chris David and drummer Alfred Fridhagen for providing solid backbone in this capacity).
Unlike previous efforts 1912 (voyage of the Titanic) and Welcome To The Theater (blockbuster action films), A New World is not concept based. A unifying theme running throughout the album, however, focuses on how our world is changing (more details in the track by track).
I always knew that ReinXeed had a great album in them, and such is what we have in A New World. The inconsistencies I complained about in past reviews are by ard far absent, replaced with the as already noted consistency and front to back cohesiveness. It also does not hurt that the group is not afraid to branch out into the progressive side of things in addition to traditional and melodic metal territory. If let down by past ReinXeed releases then this is the one to get; if the group has already won you over then A New World will not disappoint.
Track By Track
“Distant Horizon” starts to a keyboard solo prior to taking off to the expeditious guitar riff that sets the front to back tone. Classical keyboards highlight the subsequent verses and baritone backing vocals the big as it gets chorus. Rounding things out is the blazing lead guitar work. Lyric snippet:
So follow me to the distant, the distant horizon
No more fear of darkness
Only the light will prevail here and now
The shining star from paradise has shown us the gate
To a world where eternity waits
Where our dreams will be eternally
“Into The Darkness” kicks in at once to a high end falsetto, the frenetic tempo maintained as keyboards set the airy tone and double bass the unbroken low-end. A galloping chorus demands your full attention. Melody is the overall feel at hand, particularly from the finesse filled stretch of soloing. Lyric snippet:
Listen to the bell how it rings in the night
The hour of midnight strikes once again
Close all your doors, all your windows
'Cause soon they'll be here
I feel them march all around us with nowhere to go
Someday they will find the peace they search
Repeat play reveals “The Journey Home” to fall a bit short. Lacking is the edge of muscle and aggression setting the remaining albums material apart, the fault being the songs slower tempo (on the mid-paced side of things) and overall weakness to the chorus (backing vocals laid on too thick). Good new is this is the one skip button among the lot. Lyric snippet:
I open up my eyes in a new world
The ocean guides my way back to you
I've been away for years, found my call
Now the sound of tomorrow, a light that I've borrowed
Will hopefully guide my way home
“The Star” maintains the furious tempo of the first two but with the bigger vocal melody emphasis. Keyboards, again, invoke a dramatic mood, placed over layers of impacting guitars and machine-like double bass. Soloing matches the tempo at hand. Lyric snippet:
Far above the ocean sky you can see a light
A light, away so far
The melodies of a shining star
When the time has come for us to go to paradise
We will all see that the Messiah will come again
Heavier guitars dominate “Final Destination”, another spirited pieced with furious drum fills and bludgeoning riffs galore. A neo-classical essence can be found as well, particularly during the over the top instrumental moments featuring more adeptly done lead guitar. Lyric snippet:
Final destination, we have heard its call
And we will never stop the fight
I hear you calling for me
Open your eyes, there's a world outside that's hiding
Even the strongest man is weak, but you know I will prevail
Things change up with the melodic metal of “Northern Allstars”, also reinforcing an upbeat tempo but backing away from the speed metal lacings in the process. The upshot is an almost mirthful track, decisive with its galloping emphasis and outright engaging chorus (almost radio friendly in feel). The manner in which the vocal melodies are layered almost brings to mind Stryper. Lyric snippet:
Champions united, our reign has begun!
Nordic alliance, together as one!
Our goal is the victory, we will never surrender
Cheer out and reach for the stars when we sing:
This is where we stand!
United we stand, we're the "Nordic Land!"
“Chalice Of Time” represents five minutes of artistic brilliance. The song takes the neo-classical tinctures of Golden Resurrection and melds them with hints of Kansas-like progressiveness (note the use of grand piano). Tempo ranges from the slower and cinematic to periodic vitriolic backed by speed based drums, but all the while the mega-huge chorus dominating with its histrionic feel. Best song by ReinXeed to date (hope this is the direction the group takes in the future). Lyric snippet:
There's a cold in his eyes as he's waiting to fall
When the hope fora new world is gone
He stands on the edge, his vision is clear
But has he the courage for one last step?
Now the time has come for one more decision
Will it be wrong or right?
“Curse And Damnation” stands out as another choice track. The song bases itself upon a foundation of melodic metal while drawing upon the groups speed metal instincts, the effect an equal joining of the mercurial and catchy. Manner in which backing vocals are employed is masterful in adding to the engaging effect (almost Theocracy-like in capacity). Lyric snippet:
Hear the night is calling! It's calling for you for
Curse and damnation on board this ship
Can you see the sign, the sign of the stars that tells me
Of a curse and damnation tonight?
Once you have touched it you're knocking on heaven's door
The only way to be free is to send it away, far away!
Despite the platitudes of its title, “Guitar Hero” is a great song and heavy as well (by far the most aggressive in the group’s repertoire). Traditional metal is touched upon as a result but also not failing to stress melody- all the while ReinXeed speed aspect comes to the forefront. Yes, different but good. Lyric snippet:
Why won't you take control of your life?
I'm asking you don't tell me why 'cause I don't understand
And I don't wanna know why you play the game
All right, so you think you're a hero
For playing your guitar with no string?
But you're just a zero who doesn't know a thing
The albums title track comes across as a progressive metal masterpiece. A mostly mid-paced heading is taken, with the song navigating calmer passages upheld by gently done keyboards and others taking a neo-classical tone in which the group’s baritone vocals play a lead role. Melody all the while defines things in that despite the nine minute length A New World does not turn into a trite listen. Of equal note, the instrumental interlude plays up a majestic flair that brings to mind Kerry Livgren’s “Ground Zero” (off Seeds Of Change). Lyric snippet:
A poor mans words with a mad mans mind
His brother he was born the day his mother passed away
A tragedy that made him see there's more to life
For everyone who wish to live their lives eternally
His passion for science will be their victory
When the lightning strikes he knows...
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Distant Horizon” (5:04), “Into The Darkness” (4:36), “The Journey Home” (3:36), “The Star” (5:03), “The Final Destination” (4:04), “Northern Allstars” (3:34), “Chalice Of Time” (5:14), “Curse And Damnation” (3:52), “Guitar Hero” (5:35), “A New World” (8:46)
Tommy ReinXeed - Lead vocals, Guitars, Keyboards & Orchestration
Alex Oriz - Lead guitars & Backing Vocals
Chris David - Bass
Alfred Fridhagen - Drums