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Before Andy Sneap gained fame as one of the most in-demand producers in the metal scene, he was the lead guitarist in this UK thrash metal band. This 1989 effort was the band’s second album and unfortunately the last to feature the band’s original line-up.
Musically, this album provides a strong balance between thrash intensity and progressive technicality. Every song is carefully constructed and packed with complex guitar playing and elaborate structuring. The riffs are all aggressively direct and the vocals make up for their limited range with solid barks and raving. Of course, there are also plenty of melodic moments that allow the listener to breathe and for some acoustic guitars to shine.
While vocalist Martin Walkyier may possess a somewhat limited range, it could be argued that he is one of the greatest lyricists in the history of metal. Being a deeply devout pagan, it’s only fitting that this album is based on The Way of Wyrd by Brian Bates, a novel that deals with a Christian missionary who seeks to convert the natives of the medieval British Isles and not quite getting what he expected. While the story itself is tricky to understand, every song is filled with astounding lyrics that are witty and really make the listener think about what is being said. Bottom line: Even if you hate the music itself, you at least need to read the lyrics...
Aside from being tricky to get a taste for in the first place, I think this album’s main flaw is that most of the songs have a tendency to sound extremely similar if you’re not paying attention. Each song starts out in a distinct fashion thanks to an interesting opening but soon goes into more generic territory as its verses come crashing in. While it’s not really that bad, I do wish they had expanded a few of their ideas...
All in all, I think this is a solid thrash album worth checking out for its complex songs and insightful lyrics. It might be a bit overrated though, but I might still be getting a feel for it.
1) Carefully constructed songs and guitar riffs
2) Amazing lyrics and concept
1) Somewhat inaccessible for newer listeners
2) Songs tend to sound similar to one another
My Current Favorites:
"The Clerical Conspiracy," "Advent of Insanity," "Do Dark Horses Dream of Nightmares?," "Wildfire," and "Happy Never After (Outro)"