The Daily Stab - 8/10

Without necessarily being an over-the-top essential from front to back, LANCE KING's first solo release responds to one particular feat that's daunting to achieve in the realms of melodic metal; it hasn't got one single song that isn't good. Not each moment is perfect, there are some mild zoneouts, but those are being made up for by heaps of profusely fucking stunning songwriting twists that seriously shine in how intricate, powerful, and moving they are. A handful of knowledgeable musicians got their heads in gear to cook up this mean fucker within three months last summer, and for the little time this took to be conceived, it's a goddamn rockin', and incredibly hard not to praise piece-of-work. It ain't aiming at being the most original creation to ever land in your CD player, but nevertheless, it's got plenty of vitality, smoking riffs, climaxes, catchiness, memorability, and overall grandeur without aiming for the cheesy overblown fanfare characteristic of a lot of melodic power metal out there. It's got plenty of meat on the bones, and will appeal to diehards of classic heavy metal as much as possibly gothic/symphonic metal enthusiasts. Everything's packaged up to grab you by the neck here, on an emotional level, as much as a profusely musically-skilled one. Make no mistake though, this isn't the temple of the outshreddin' fannies. This album ain't based on virtuosity; it's about the sincerity of the delivery, and the brilliance in song-structure, while obviously being skillful in droves from square one to eleven.

''A Sense of Urgency'' is aptly titled, being a damn fine opener, with absorbing melodic leads that are positively charming and thrilling, and the mid-paced, ever-so-slightly
dark ''Awakening'' scores some mega-points in the catchiness sing-along department, while being captivatingly layered, and authentic. It impresses for exactly what it is, instead of attempting to be what it ain't. ''Manifest Destiny'' is close behind my favourite title on the record, being an adrenaline-filled, soaring masterpiece that simply hauls one's ass into oblivion with its spot-on melodies in the chorus, and general quality vibe and structure, making it one of these tunes you'll want to blast repeatedly while speeding on the highway, at a risk of sounding painfully cliche. It simply works that way; you put it on, your mood kicks up a peg. ''A Given Choice'' seems to aim at complex, somber layers of ever-so-slightly different guitarwork, and while the experimentation factor is admirable, it seems the track's ammo is weaker overall, and it ain't ticking that unforgetability box for me. The lengthy title-cut ''A Moment in Chiros'' seems slightly reluctant 'til about mid-track, where it blossoms into extremely flashy soloing, with seemingly suddenly revived oomph in the drum section, bringing my enthusiasm back on top without any fucking drag, in such a substantial way that I had to forget the previous misfires. ''Dance of Power'' is by far the highlight we have here, having the most uplifting chorus of all, and being frankly stylish and warm, while still obviously serving the grittiness factor on a golden plateau. A tune that has both these characteristics simply calls the shots in terms of schooling the young melodic metal acts out there. It nails the fucking philosophy of the genre. ''Kibou'' is a piano piece that is sincerely beautiful, rendering a powerful emotion that is bound to please, although it doesn't contain one metallic element except Lance's vocals that have been completely irreproachable and sincerely electric all the way through this disc so far. ''Infinity Divine'' is well-orchestrated, and mint in all angles, ''Joy Everlasting'' seems to be ever-so-slightly too long to serve its cause, ''Sacred Systems'' makes up for this flaw by keeping one's attention on board the whole way through with some unpredictable, well thought-out patterns, and the finale ''Transformation'' is a massive fucking nuke of no less than spectacular performances from all components of this positively dangerous machinery.

I'm particularly chuffed with this disc, and pretty damn impressed with the overall cadence of the approach to the style. Definitely one freaking strong statement of devotion to a style of metal I'm starting to appreciate more and more thanks to discs like this one. Hats off.

RATING: 8/10



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