|Musical Style: Hard Rock||Produced By: Frek Mika & Netto Mello|
|Record Label: MS Metal||Country Of Origin: Brazil|
|Year Released: 2013||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 70%|
|Running Time: 44:52|
On Carved In Time, the summer of 2013 fifth full-length album from Goiania, Brazil’s Sunroad, every upside comes with a corresponding downside. We like how the group maintains a straightforward hard rock with blues and groove overtones based sound, though the album would have stood out further if songwriting were more consistent. While musicianship remains a Sunroad strength, ongoing turnover within its lineup continues to prevent the band from reaching its full potential. Cover artwork and packaging are of high quality, but production comes across on the muddy side of things.
Sunroad has been a mainstay in the Brazilian Christian metal scene since the late nineties, having gotten started with its 1999 full length debut Heat From The Road prior to putting out follow up releases Arena Of Aliens and Flying N’ Floating in 2003 and 2006, respectively. The group’s previous offering, Long Gone from 2009, proved aptly entitled in reference to the number of musicians within its roster to have ‘come and gone’ throughout the years: Only one member has appeared on all five Sunroad albums, drummer Fred Mika, while bassist Akasio Angels performed on the last four. Outside of that, Sunroad has experienced a literal revolving door of vocalists and guitarists.
Such turnover has prevented Sunroad from developing the continuity characteristic to bands that preserve the same core of musicians from one release to the next. Each Sunroad album, as a result, feels more like a debut album by a new band as opposed to the well-oiled cohesion of one a veteran act with a stable lineup might present. Carved In Time proves no exception in this regard by featuring the groups fourth vocalist (Harion Vex) and fifth guitarist (Netto Mello), although to his credit Vex did front Arena Of Aliens but that over ten years ago.
The upshot, as one might imagine, are the inconsistent musical results yielded by Carved In Time. Only a couple of songs grab your immediate attention in playing up the group’s proclivity towards had rock mixed with strong blues and groove based aspects. “Master Of Disguises” shines with its recognizable at once melody (by far the albums strongest), while “No Need Fantasy” emphasizes a darker and weighty feel in upholding a conspicuous low end (I cannot help but be reminded of The Cult).
Otherwise, much of the Carved In Time material comes across as above average to good at best. The albums animated title track sets an inspired and uplifting tone (sort of like countrymen Destra) and “Five Years Wasted” a tempo on the full throttle power metal side of things (and hinting of Seventh Avenue). “Echo Of Your Loving” also hits hard but in the more bottom heavy and mid-paced package. Reflecting a lighter touch is classy melodic hard rocker “Into The City Lights”, with its return to an expeditious sound, and semi-ballad “Backing Again”, mixing lighter and heavier moments with polished vocal melodies.
You will encounter a couple filler tracks as well. “The Only Ones”, a slower and more plodding piece, comes across a bit plain in lacking the energy inherit to the albums better material, while “Commonplace Heat” proves an ordinary ballad that is too long winded for my taste at just under six minutes.
Vocally, Harion Vex performs solidly with a mostly mid-ranged style hinting of bluesy edge and grit. While I wish on occasion he would trend towards the higher register side of things, one cannot say he doesn’t complement the rawer nature to the material here either. Guitarist Netto Mello represents a top performer with soloing that ranged from full on emotion (“Carved In Time”) to all our fiery (“Five Years Wasted”). Also notable is the strong bass work of Akasio Angels, a Sunroad staple. Check out instrumental “Mission”, with its trending towards the shredding to the jam based to the funk laden for a good idea of what Sunroad is capable musicianship wise.
On past Sunroad reviews, I noted production as “slightly thin” or “lacking big budget feel”. Such is the case here, keeping in mind this is a self-financed album released on a small label (the group deserves credit accordingly, keeping in mind I wish in the future they would put it together in the studio).
Sunroad cannot help but draw comparison to the Cleveland Browns of the NFL, which each season more often than not features turnover at the crucial positions of quarterback, head coach and general manager. Hence, it is no wonder the Browns have not won a championship since the Johnson administration (and Jim Brown was the leagues best player). The lesson learned is that stability and continuity from top to bottom are key attributes for any group-based endeavor - whether it is a football team or hard rock band - to be successful. Not to denigrate Sunroad, which proves without doubt it is not lacking talent and can compose quality material, but if the group is to take the next step musically, it must hold its current roster together for the next several albums.
Track By Track
Albums title track opens its first seconds to eerie keyboards before guitars power their way in, a rough and crisp groove laden edge bolstered as the song maneuvers its lively verses and every bit buoyant chorus. Lead guitar takes on a moving tone. I am reminded of Destra here (a very good thing!). Lyric snippet:
By long time I’ve running out of darkness
Out of line, hiding from the emptiness
All I need is all Your forgiveness
To move the aim to geto out of this mess
Day by day
Forging the strength to carry on
Year by year, turning the key to go on
Because the world is not the same
I held on my dream, my guide, my flame
“Master Of Disaster” maintains the spirited demeanor but in a more straightforward hard rock form. Consider the 70’s influence, reflected in the use of gritty organ and bigger than life bass line. Strength to the song, however, resides in the catchy chorus (radio friendly and by far the albums strongest). Lyric snippet:
Beyond deep hell and high blue sea
Here time leaves no view and trace
Beyond the reason for you and me
Where shame has no face
They call it dirty, they call it crime
Gosts dancing in downtown street
They say “There’s no friend of mine”
Don’t’ go there, only evil you’ll meet
“Into The City Lights” starts as a heavy-duty rocker, muscular and weighty for its staunch verses but picking up pace for the smoothly flowing chorus taking the added commercial heading. A raspy voice in the backdrop (prior to the chorus) adds to the songs bluesy milieu. Another strong bass line.
My interest starts to wane on “The Only Ones”, a tepid mid-paced rocker lacking the pizzazz of those preceding it. Chorus, for instance, fails to captivate while the slower tempo cannot help but lend to the muddy environs at hand. Repeat listen reveals this one to be a skip button.
Likewise with “Commonplace Heat”, a plain sounding ballad carried out too long (just under six minutes) that also lacks the notable hooks to draw you in. Yes, a joining of acoustic and rhythm guitar presents itself along with tastefully done female backing vocals but not enough to put things over the top. There are only a select few capable of lengthy ballads (Bloodgood, Shadow Gallery) and holding my attention in the process. Lyric snippet:
When I was young I trusted in angels
To bring me a kiss and wish goodnight
When I grew up I looked for that angel
“Hear my voice in the shadows of the night”
When I was young I saw the rainbow
Telling me colors that angels wear
When I grew up I looked for that angel
“I’ll speak softly in your ears”
“Five Years Wasted” represents the better effort, a high-energy power metal-based track carried by heightened double kick drum action. A resounding mood prevails as a result, allowing for the pillaging bass lines and scintillating leads that soar above the mix. I cannot help but be reminded of Seventh Avenue. Lyric snippet:
You’ve been walking by long time
You’ve been crying and never feel fine
Searching for the sky
And no matter how do you try, too much cries
You broke the chains before
Knowing testing what’s right
Testing what is right
Cant’ you see all of your sad road?
For pushing hard your heavy load
Instrumental “Mission” shines as well. The song takes a mid-paced approach, muscular in terms of its stauncher guitar tones, but also lightened from keyboards that highlight the backdrop. Some time signatures present themselves as well, reflected in the passage within the final minute when impetus picks up for the shred lead guitar run. Good to hear Sunroad stretch and showcase its musicianship in such a notable manner.
“No Need Fantasy” proves a rousing hard rocker. Straightforward in mentality, the song brings the type of bluesy groove laden guitar tones that cannot help but remind of The Cult. A catchy hook prevails as well, which lends to potential radio play (this is one of the albums more commercial). Also credit Fred Mika for his spot on timekeeping.
Swarthy and bottom heavy, “Echo Of Your Loving” crawls its length with thick as it gets guitars playing off accenting doses of polished vocal harmonies. The result is an environment that is heavy but accessible at the same time. Lone complaint is how keyboards are laid on a bit thick.
“Backing Again” features some laid back touches, reflected in its lighter melodic hard rock leanings and evenly flowing guitar tones throughout. When impetus picks up, it is for a rousing in which the bands natural and raw energy comes to the forefront. A semi-ballad is the feel at hand, as can be found in how it makes use of strong eighties influences. Lyric snippet:
Cryin’ all the night waiting for the sign
I believe in a deep choice when you got no choice
No echoes from the past, no time for the rest
The bright of the sun still alive on this run
The time’s running so much fast
I’m renewed for the test
New day dawning in the blues skyline
Like a dream I feel the fire
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Carved In Time” (4:44), “Master Of Disaster” (3:34), “Into The City Lights” (4:27), “The Only Ones” (4:11), “Commonplace Heat” (5:57), “Five Years Wasted” (4:00), “Mission” (4:28), “No Need Fantasy” (4:10), “Echo Of Your Loving” (4:10), “Backing Again (4:59)
Harion Vex - Lead Vocals
Nettto Mello - Guitars
Akasio Angels - Bass & Keyboards
Fred Mika - Drums & Percussion