|Musical Style: Melodic Hard Rock||Produced By: Jean Funes & Rui Prado|
|Record Label: Melodic Rock||Country Of Origin: Honduras|
|Year Released: 2014||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 80%|
|Running Time: 44:55|
When San Pedro Sula, Honduras based Codigo Eterno released its first two albums, 2008 debut Codigo Eterno and sophomore effort Canten La Tierra Y El Cielo from 2011, they went widely overlooked. After all, the group combined a strong modern slant with a basis of melodic rock and commercial hard rock. Appropriately, the influences listed with its press material range from Stryper, HB, Harmony and Narnia to Red, Skillet, Pillar and Kutless. Potentially preventing Codigo Eterno from gaining further acclaim is the fact lyrics and liner notes to both albums were in Spanish. I did not find either issue distracting, noting how my reviews of each (70% former and 75% latter) acknowledged the “modern tendencies as understated” while I invited comparison to another female fronted group in HB, who garnered a significant following despite several of its albums being in Finnish. Regardless, Codigo Eterno never quite caught on in the manner I would expect from a group of its abilities.
This, however, is certain to change in that Codigo Eterno has made the necessary adjustments that would allow it to both expand upon its popularity and broaden its fan base in the process. It begins with the more easily identifiable new name of Sound Of Eternity in addition to the extra element of accessibility that would accompany its now all English lyrics direction. It also encompasses a new label, Melodic Rock Records, to go along with the group’s third full-length album from the summer of 2014 entitled Visions & Dreams. The best way to describe Sound Of Eternity, as a result, would be the English equivalent to Codigo Eterno, particularly when factoring how Visions & Dreams features English versions to eight of the ten Canten La Tierra Y El Cielo tracks.
Musically, Visions & Dreams does not stray too far from the melodic rock direction of the groups first two albums. The main difference is the heavier Sound Of Eternity interpretation of the Codigo Eterno material, yielding a guitar sound rooted in that much more edge and bite. The straight up hard rock feel that emerges lends too many of the previously noted modern influences being significantly downplayed. The group also delivers better continuity in terms of heavier material and that reflecting a lighter touch, referencing my complaint about how the first two albums were too ballad heavy, with five allocated to the first and four the second. Credit Sound Of Eternity in this capacity in that the two songs not included from the latter, the title track and “Mas Como Tu”, were of the slower ballad type.
That newfound Sound Of Eternity heaviness manifests itself on “Call To Action”, exciting and oozing of high energy with commercial hooks to spare and guitars of an every bit forthright nature. Likewise, “Running To You” also flexes its muscles, with driving guitars the backbone to its unflinching refrain, which contrasts with verses of a lighter and more airy quality. Standing out about the two is the complementary keyboard work of Erik Marttensson (W.E.T., Eclipse), who also contributes bass and backing vocals to several tracks. The uplifting “Broken Heart”, one of the two new songs, tempers things in terms of tempo overall, with the presence of said backing vocals smoothing its ethereally tinged chorus. The inherit accessibility that comes to the forefront made it the perfect candidate for the albums feature video (located at the end of the review).
My favorite stretch of the album begins with “Reason To Live”, a stately ballad starting to a thunderstorm and airy keyboards prior to building until guitars kick in to back its angelic chorus. Vocalist Beatriz Aranda does a good job exhibiting the full range to her voice, very moving and emotional in line with the music (one of the reasons I earlier mentioned HB is that Aranda brings a comparable level of ability to that of Johanna Aaltonen. If you like HB you will also like Sound Of Eternity). As “Reason To Live” fades out, it segues to instrumental “Alpha & Omega”, in which guitarist Jean Funes showcases his licks and chops, ranging from breathtaking harmonies to riffs on a darker and more foreboding side of things. What I appreciate is how instead of coming across as two separate tracks the feel is one long (eight minute) piece with an extended instrumental passage at the end.
A return to upbeat hard rock territory is taken on “My Saviour”, thick and weight from emanating a 70’s influence with its use of organ but also not afraid to deliver commercial hooks in abundance. “Forever” is another exquisite number, with piano at the beginning giving way to hard rocking guitars as quite the unwavering (and catchy) tone is set. Standing out about the two are the fitting stretches of fiery guitar soloing.
Visions & Dreams reaches its apex on seven-minute worship rocker “Eternal Love”. Atmospheric is the feel at hand, as acoustic guitars, silky keyboards and swirling electric guitars combine to form an environs that has sublime written all over it. Also of note is how the song fails to come across cumbersome despite the length. The album closes to another worship rock number in “Universe”. Yes, a nice song that delivers similar musical quality, but after “Eternal Love” I am a bit ‘worship rocked out” at this point. Which leads to my lone complaint: Outside of short instrumental opener “Visions & Dreams” (the second new piece), the album features only nine tracks, of which, again, eight appeared on the previous release. So perhaps the group could have rounded things out with a couple of more new songs (I also do not wish to be unfair from this standpoint in that HB also re-released several of its albums in English).
Excellent production far surpasses that on the first two albums, which were not bad when factoring their independent release. Standing out is the separation of instrumentation allowing not only for guitars to play a dominant role but also quite the pronounced drum sound.
While Visions & Dreams might not be a concept album, a worshipful lyric basis stands out on many of its tracks. This can be found on “My Saviour” (“In my darkest hour/I will call Your name/And I know You will save me/You are my strength and may salvation/You will set me free”) and “Reason To Live” (“You are the faithful One/Your love will never fail me/Your mercy is forever/Take my life and guide me”). The two worship rock pieces also deserve mention: “Eternal Love” (“Oh Lord you are worthy of honor/All the glory and power/Forever I will praise/And I will sing of your wonders”) and “Universe” (“You are God so beautiful/All Your creation speaks of Your wonders/The stars above shine Your glory/And all the earth praises Your name?).
Other topics include sharing the faith, such as on “Call To Action” (“We have a fire burning in our hearts/Now is time to tell the nations/And together we will change the world”), and hope during difficult times, as “Running To You” emphasizes (“Hard times, bad times coming my way/I find my safety in Your embrace/You will never let me down/You are my God/I know You are faithful/To You I surrender”).
One of the appeal to Visions & Dreams reveals itself in the artistic approach taken by Sound Of Eternity. How many melodic rock bands, for instance, are willing to step outside the box and deliver a seven-minute worship rock piece or fade out a ballad to a three-minute instrumental- not to mention asserting a conspicuous guitar sound? This is what separates Sound Of Eternity from Guardian, who recorded a competent comeback album in Almost Home but otherwise played it too conservative and avoided any risks that might allow it to make the more pronounced artistic statement (call it formula CCM if you will).
Visions & Dreams adds up to a very good melodic hard rock releases that proves much heavier than its Codigo Eterno predecessors. The previous modern elements have been deemphasized accordingly, if not outright factored out of the equation. Other changes in terms of the Sound Of Eternity name and English lyrical direction I see attracting the group both a greater fan base and wider appeal overall. Helping Sound Of Eternity to further stand out are strengths in the areas of production, packaging and performance. Visions & Dreams comes highly recommended for those with a penchant towards AOR, melodic hard rock and all forms of melodic metal.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Visions & Dreams” (1:15), “Call To Action” (4:46), “Running To You” (4:36), “Broken Heart” (4:29), “Reason To Live” (5:04), “Alpha & Omega” (3:15), “My Saviour” (4:50), “Eternal Love” (7:26), “Forever” (4:12), “Universe” (5:04)
Beatriz Aranda - Lead Vocals & Acoustic Guitars
Jean Funes - Electric Guitars
Rui Prado - Drums
Erik Martensson - Keyboards, Bass & Backing Vocals
Andreas Passmark - Bass