|Musical Style: Metal/Hard Rock||Produced By:|
|Record Label: Independent||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2012||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 75%|
|Running Time: 50:31|
Sons Of Deity wants the world to know it is swinging for the fences in the melodic metal and hard rock arenas with its January of 2013 full length debut Who Do You Say That I Am?. To show you how serious it is about the album, the Madisonville, Louisiana based group (from its press material) describes itself as “dedicated to spreading the Good News” while being “one of the most outspoken bands you will find where faith and salvation is concerned”. True to form, Sons Of Deity considers its music not only “inspired directly from scripture” but also “a mission from God”.
Little doubt is left, as a result, that Sons Of Deity has its priorities in place from a ministry and faith based standpoint. That being said, it was also Theocracy front man Matt Smith who suggested (in an online interview) that "When you're dealing with the most powerful and serious subject matter in existence, you can't back it up with weak music- it just doesn't work." So how does Sons Of Deity measure up in this capacity? The “mission from God” thing notwithstanding - don’t worry, Sons Of Deity are not attempting to be the Christian music scenes answer to the Blues Brothers - the group presents with some serious talent and the ability to compose a first rate song.
What Who Do You Say That I Am? gives prominence to is a solid foundation of the eighties but with some variances thrown in. The band does the Sweet Crystal meets Line Of Fine melodic rock and AOR thing as well as anyone (“Creation Reprise”) while proving just as able with Guardian and Holy Soldier style melodic metal (“The Prodigal”). Some acoustic rock moments hinting of Liberty N’ Justice will also be encountered (“Good Samaritan”) in addition to Glenn Kaiser Band blues heavy rock (“Woman At The Well”) and a bottom heavy direction reminiscent to Bloodgood’s slower material (“Pain”). Where Sons Of Deity puts it all together is when taking a power/progressive metal heading not unlike Queensryche and Sacred Warrior (“Gethsemane” & “Crucifixion”).
Being that Sons Of Deity is a relatively young band some inconsistencies are to be expected. Hence, the contrived boogie flavored “He’s Alive” in which the group goes after the Van Halen style party rock sound to a fault. Likewise, the laid back and modern aspects of “Tell Me Why” also comes across on the flat side of things.
You will not encounter a lack of talent here. Consider the multifarious abilities of vocalist Jerry Huber, who proves adept at showcasing a soaring style reminiscent to Geoff Tate or Rey Parra (no, not quite the same range but exemplary all the same) or adding a rawer edge to his delivery (for the more blues based and traditional hard rock material here). Otherwise, he settles into a smooth and even groove (walking a fine line between the upper and mid-register side of things) that fits well with the styles at hand.
Bill McCormick and Randy Kingston form the deft guitar team. I do not know who handles which solo on what song, but the two bring hefty doses of lead work with a free and flowing style that reminds of Tony Palacios (Guardian) or Rick Hunter-Martinez (his work in Regime). Best standing out are the instrumental closing moments to “Creation Reprise” and “Pain” in addition to the bluesy soloing throughout “Woman At The Well”. Opening instrumental creation deserves mention as well.
Lone complaint revolves around some production misgivings. No, far from bad (for an independent release) but a touch of big budget polish would have proved beneficial (drums deserve a cleaner mix and guitars a bit more edge and backbone). Packaging could have been improved upon as well. Album artwork is nice, but the 4-panel digipak is limiting in that no lyrics or liner notes were included. Lyrics, however, are available at the group’s website.
Speaking of which, lyrics leave little doubt that ministry is Sons of Deity’s priority. One only need, for instance, to check the song titles to understand the subject at hand: “The Prodigal”, “Good Samaritan”, “Woman At The Well”, “Gethsemane”, “Crucifixion”, etc.
The quality to Who Do You Say That I Am? is such that I cannot help but look forward to any subsequent release from Sons Of Deity. Again, songwriting abilities and talent are in place for the group to put together a great album- keeping in mind the key areas of improvement are consistency and production. With this in mind, I would like to encourage the group to not so much as “swing for the fences” on any future project it records but rather connect and hit a home run instead!
Track By Track
Rich acoustic flavorings and airy keyboards lend to the delicate feel to instrumental opener “Creation”. Keyboards move to the front of the mix after three minutes to create an atmospheric effect. If Rock In A Hard Place era Bloodgood had recorded an instrumental this is what it might sound like.
The polished AOR of “Creation Reprise” presents with an even joining of underlining guitars and texturing keyboards. A commercial melody defines the song, made for the radio with its immediate draw you in elements while augmented by the smooth touches to Huber’s vocal presence. Interestingly, the final two minutes are instrumental in featuring a flashy run of lead guitar. Lyric snippet:
He said let there be light and there was light
He called the light day
The darkness the night
Let there be oceans
And it was so, He's the great I am, the great I am
he great I am was longing for a family
So He formed man out of the dust of the ground
So He breathed life into creation
He's the great I am
Guitars head to the front of the mix for the melodic metal of “The Prodigal”. The song sets a staunch mid-paced tempo for its verses, hitting even harder upon acquiring the forthright disposition that is its knife edged chorus. Momentum picks up for an instrumental interlude carried by bluesy lead guitar.
The delectable acoustic rock of “Good Samaritan” gives rise to a heartfelt milieu in upholding an enriched melody. Guitars kick in following three minutes to help put in place some worship rock flavorings. Again, the final moments are instrumental in featuring more blues driven soloing. Lyric snippet:
Sometimes we walk, sometimes we crawl
Depending on the level of the pain we feel
You bandaged my wounds
when I was left for dead
You healed my heart from the inside out
You been more than a friend
Lord You are more like a Good Samaritan
Oh yeah, You are
Your like a good Samaritan, You are
Your like a good Samaritan
Along this line, “Woman At The Well” highlights a gritty Glenn Kaiser Band type sound, although on the heavier side of things. Scratchy guitars play a defining role, while Huber adds to the laid back scene in showcasing a courser side to his delivery. Soloing approaches the keyed up with its emotional facets.
“Gethsemane” takes a power metal slant. Setting a technical tone with its intricate riff action and timekeeping complexities, the song nails the Sacred Warrior meets Queensyche sound to perfection. Every bit as fitting is the pristine as it gets melody and not to be denied upbeat impetus. Put this one on Obsessions and it would sound right at home. Lyric snippet:
I'll take this choice you set before me
And for your children's sake I won't back down
Father the weight of the world is upon me
Lord this is a burden I can hardly bare
My followers they sleep, as I suffer
I feel as though I'm losing my own mind
The pressures so great, I'm sweating blood
God I need your help to make it through the night
I hear the footsteps of my captors. As they pursue me
As Peter draws his sword to strike an angry blow
“Crucifixion” melds some progressive overtones with a power metal foundation. A satisfying nine minutes, the song breaks down into tow distinct “parts”. The first merges forward guitars (some of the albums heaviest moments occur here) and weighty low-end with riveting vocals to give rise to some symphonic elements (I am almost reminded of Absolon as a result). The second starts after five and a half minutes, as initiative tapers with stilly done guitars and gentle feedback carrying things to their close. By far the bands best effort. Lyric snippet:
Thorns in his head
Nails in his hands
Nails in his feet
Pierced in his side
Blood and water fell like rain
Forever changed the world before thee
Immaculate son of the most
High God .. The most high God
Hung from a tree
upon Calvary's hill
Hanging there for all to see
The spotless lamb
A savior to us all
Once said and done
it's finished forevermore .. forevermore
Things take a downturn with “He’s Alive”, a Van Halen meets early Guardian style boogie flavored metal piece. Yes, the song delivers its share of energy - and is lyrically spot on - but comes across forced in straining for but failing to obtain the party rock vibe that comes more naturally to others (Huber might be a versatile performer but sounding like David Lee Roth is not one of his fortes). Lyric snippet:
They came and rolled the stone away
Expecting to find a dead man
But came across a great surprise
There was nothing there but an empty grave
You know he said I must go away
I'll rise again on the third day
Our King - He's alive
Our Savior - He's Alive
He's the way, He's the truth and the life
Likewise, the slower and modern tinged “Tell My Why” also finds the band out of its natural element. Perhaps it is a square peg in a round hole scenario, but lacking is the distinct energy and notable hooks applicable to the better material here (the song starts to lose me after the first minute). The lesson learned is to let eighties bands do what eighties bands to best, which is to play to their strengths and not follow current musical fashion trends.
“Pain” also trends towards the mid-tempo but in this case it works: Sons Of Deity stays true to themselves with a notable but subtle hook (this one takes a couple of listens to draw you in) and plenty of choice soloing throughout (I particularly enjoy the shredding lead guitar carrying the final two minutes. What separates the final two is the added creativity “Pain” brings to the table.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Creation” (4:43), “Creation Reprise” (4:06), “The Prodigal” (4:16), “Good Samaritan” (5:06), “Woman At The Well” (4:46), “Gethsemane” (4:22), “Crucifixion” (9:17), “Tell My Why” (3:34), “Pain” (6:03)
Jerry Huber – Lead Vocals
Bill McCormick – Guitars
Randy Kingston – Guitars & Keyboards
John "JW" Walden - Bass
Seth Lengendre - Drums