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Catchy US Power Metal - 85%

TheStormIRide, August 20th, 2012

Reverence, the new American power metal “super group” featuring former members of Savatage, Tokyo Blade and Jack Starr's Burning Starr, have released their debut “When Darkness Calls”. There was a good amount of hype revolving around this release, at least a lot of hype for a power metal act. With members being formerly involved with such revered acts in the traditional and power metal realms, expectations were high, and rightly so.

“When Darkness Calls” captures the essence of the American power metal scene, while adding elements of other metal genres: that being a traditional base combining traces of thrash, power and hard rock. Although Reverence come nowhere close to reinventing the wheel, they do create a generally catchy and enjoyable release. Imagine, if you will, a 1980's power metal base with touches of mid-period Metallica and and a dash of Mercyful Fate. Reverence excels at creating an extremely listenable album, without any of the wankery of many contemporaries.

This album is full of crunchy guitar work, with many of the riffs bordering on groove and thrash styles, yet manages to retain that classic 1980's vibe that makes power metal so endearing. The riffs are catchy and contain enough venom to induce some serious headbanging. The choice of rhythms, timing and palm muting sounds very similar to the riffs Hank Sherman (Mercyful Fate) is known for writing. The lead work is stellar, with the solos and extrapolations flowing in and out with the greatest of ease. The leads coupled with the powerful riffs sound similar to that of Warmachine's work. The bass is tastefully done, with some intros and fills heard throughout, but nothing mind blowing.

The true standouts here are the drums and vocals. The drums are high octane through the entire album. Some sections utilize standard double bass running, but for the most part stay with a fast paced double kick, sounding similar to Vinnie Paul at times. The cymbal and tom work is outstanding and the choice of lines keeps your guessing what will come next. Vocally, Reverence borrows its influences from all over the map. At times the vocals sound straight off a Judas Priest album, while other times they feel more like Brainstorm or Symphorce. The singer tends to stay within the mid-range, with a very powerful, energetic delivery. The highs are kind of weak, sounding almost like “Night of Stormrider” era Iced Earth, but they are passable.

“When Darkness Calls” is a solid, enjoyable album. All of the tracks are well developed, with catchy choruses and awesome solos. After several tracks, everything begins to blend together a bit, as there some slower sections, but for the most part the album keeps the same driving tempo. Reverence has created an album that traditional and power metal fans will eat up. The forceful power metal riffs, high octane drumming and energetic vocals could also appeal to melodic thrash fans. Reverence is a super group that finally lived up to the hype. Recommended to anyone looking for an enjoyable, no frills heavy metal album.