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Where Do You Think This Will Lead? - 89%

Twisted_Psychology, July 25th, 2011

Originally published at http://www.suite101.com

Sons of Liberty was formed by Jon Schaffer, better known in most circles as a leading figure in such bands as Iced Earth and Demons and Wizards.

First made available as a free MP3 collection on the group's website around December 2009 and then seeing a physical release mid-July the following year, this album is driven by a more basic sound and a newfound lyrical passion.

Unsurprisingly, the musical style on here isn't too far removed from that of Schaffer's usual bands and often sounds similar to 2004's The Glorious Burden in many ways. The guitars mainly consist of muscular chugs and melodic leads, the songwriting is highlighted by often uplifting choruses, and a number of samples and quotations are used to round out an otherwise light atmosphere. At the same time, this isn't quite as heavy as Schaffer's usual works and may be one of his most accessible albums to date.

But what really makes this project interesting is that it's a solo work in every sense of the word. in addition to his usual guitar duties, Schaffer has also attended to the drum programming and even performs the lead vocals. Of course, there are a few guest performers included here and there with famed producer Jim Morris providing guitar solos on songs such as Jeckyll Island and Our Dying Republic.

All in all, the musicians' performances are pretty solid though there aren't too many mind-blowing moments to be found. Having said that, the vocals are surprisingly strong for a man that has only taken the lead on a few short occasions. Often sounding like Iced Earth's most popular vocalist Matt Barlow, the vocals carry the songs well and range from a gruff tone on False Flag to a more melodic croon on many of the songs' hooks.

Speaking of songs, the songwriting in this album is pretty basic but still results in distinct tunes. Most are executed at a more upbeat pace though there are some mid-tempo moments to be found in places such as Indentured Servitude and Tree of Liberty. And as expected, there are also a few ballads thrown into the mix with Our Dying Republic serving as a somber lighter-holder and The Cleansing Wind bringing in an almost

But despite the songwriting quality, it's made obvious by the present themes and presentation that this project is all about the lyrical themes. With the project's name being inspired by a patriotic group of the same name, the lyrics focus on the problem of the world's masses being controlled by an elite few through the use of finances and deception.

For the most part, the lyrics avoid specifics and stick to more abstract ideas with many references being made to tyranny, slavery, liberty, the Founding Fathers, and the insidious men behind the curtain. There is also a personal touch as several songs revolve Schaffer's feelings towards his own revelation and encouragement expressed for those that are in the process of discovering theirs.

While many cynical listeners will only be led to wonder where Schaffer keeps his tin foil hats, this is a pretty strong album that may be the best that he has been involved with since Demons and Wizards released Touched By The Crimson King in 2005. The songwriting should be enjoyable enough for older listeners disappointed by the last few Iced Earth releases and accessible enough for listeners that are new to metal.

There is also no real risk in checking it out as the MP3's are still available for free on the group's website. Also recommended are the lists of recommended media on the site for those that are interested in the project's lyrical themes. Check it out!

Highlights:
Jeckyll Island, Don't Tread On Me, False Flag, The Cleansing Wind, and We The People