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This melodic death acts' debut here features a lot of innovation and creativity in songwriting. Their lineup on the release feature Hiram Lohr on guitars/vocals, Kellen Sharp on guitars/bass/vocals, and Fredrik Widigs on drums. An unknown band right now that needs to be well known especially within their genre. All of the songs are good and the whole CD clocks in about 40 minutes in length featuring 10 awesome songs. Amazing band and I'll tell you why. But first of all, I was stupefied by this brilliant debut. They caught me off guard into how wonderfully creative this album is.
From a musical standpoint, this album sounds a lot like Hypocrisy's latest release, but maybe even better. The songs entail unimaginable melodies that shine in triumph. A lot of palm muted riffs with gallops galore and high quality tremolo picking by Hiram and Kellen. The solos could use some brushing up, but the rhythms were unimaginably impeccable. Every song deserves praise. The vocals vary between heavy throat outputs that make it sound more like a death metal release, but also feature screams as well. Both fit the music intelligently and augment the guitar riffs in unison.
I liked all of the songs on here because of their impeccable design and music that's played out with vigor galore. No letting up here. They really nailed it even on this debut. It seems like this band was around for a while, but their origin was dating back to 2008. The guitars to me are what stand out the most. Not the leads, but the melodies. The leads were poorly performed unfortunately and I would've given the band an even higher rating if they stuck with only the rhythms.
The production/mixing was brilliant. Everything was well heard on here. The vocals both screaming/hoarse fit in well, the guitar was highly audible, and the drums well meshed in together also. They really did a high quality job on here with the music. Nothing is left out or needs to be fixed. I figure that this band as described has enormous potential and it shines through this album. Really mature musicians even though they're quite new to the melodic death metal genre. Definitely worth checking out for sure.
In summation, I conclude that Thousand Year War has like I said before has enormous potential and it is shown here on this release. I'm hoping that the band would continue to dish out quality music and needs to come out from the underground and be better recognized. If you heard this album and scored it below anything like a 65% out of 100%, then melodic death isn't your forte. This debut shines strong and is amazing as previously mentioned. If you're a melodic death freak like me, then "Tyrants and Men" is a definite worth purchasing. You'll be amazed by the riffs, especially if you're a guitarist like I am.
Admittedly when glancing at the cover of Tyrants and men I get this sinking feeling of horribly bad Viking/folk metal in the Folkearth/Folkodia school. I’d never heard of Thousand Year War before, so for all I knew that could very well be the case. Luckily enough, when popping this into the stereo and pressing play, that’s not what came rumbling through my speakers. Instead, what I heard was the latest Amon Amarth album, having kicked Johan Hegg from the vocal position. At least that’s what it felt like. The first riffing of Defiance sounds uncannily like the latter albums from said band. And as Tyrants and men continues there are tons of Amon Amarth references to be made, from the riffing to the tempo to the vocals.
Seriously, most of Defiance could very well have been stolen directly from said Swedish act, and the drum patterns, drum tempo, riff style, riff pace, vocal patterns, vocal style – it all reek Amon Amarth. I’ve never really been sold on that lot, and it’s only the last couple of albums I’ve enjoyed more than slightly, so I’m not sure how a genuine fan of the band would react to such a blatant copycat act. I guess there’s a chance you’ll either hate it or love it for the tribute it is. But one thing’s sure; I definitely prefer the original.
Leaving that aside I’ll try to focus a little on what Tyrants and men is actually about. As you’ve probably guessed by now it’s a type of mid tempo melodic death metal we’re used to hearing from a particular Swedish band. Most of the material is set in a chugging mid tempo, and the emphasis has definitely been put on the riffing. Speaking of which it’s not that bad, and there’s a good deal of quality to be found here. A track like No gods, no masters is a bit too melodic and cheerful for my taste, with a melodic lead that doesn’t feel convincing and a slow occurrence that really just stinks due to its overly Gothenburg-ness. Open casket is pretty much the same thing, but with a slightly perkier tempo, giving it a desperately needed energy boost, but still falling on the ‘too melodic’ side of melodic death metal.
Now Spartacus on the other hand starts off marvelously with magnificent bass drum action steadily pushing the track forward, and in company with the chugging riffing creates a fairly aggressive touch. And then we have the closer, the title track; Tyrants and men… If only they’d include this blasting a little more often on the album; they’d definitely separated themselves from the obvious influence. The brief occurrences of blasting (courtesy of the magnificent blaster Fredrik Widigs, who we know from Soils of Fate, Repulsive Dissection, MP5K etc) really breaths fresh air into the otherwise too chugging, feeling somewhat stale after a while, recipe. Had this been twined with the, admittedly bloody damn good at times, base style of Thousand Year War (like it is in the opener Defiance) it would’ve felt much more nuanced. While the quality of riffing is good, no doubt about it, the mid tempo style gets a bit tedious after too many songs of the same variant. And it’s also during these more brutal tracks that the vocals get its rightful back-up, working perfectly in the faster aggressive take.
The production is clean and hefty, and actually quite perfect for this type of semi-modern death metal, seeing as it’s clear but not too digital. And as the quality of material is high, although as stated before lacking of variety, I do expect this lot to gain a bit of fame if getting the proper promotion. There’s a certain commercial vibe to this that I think makes it easy to sell, and that is easily appreciated in the general metal crowd. But since I’m much more into the brutal type of death metal, and rarely every fully appreciate melodic death metal I just can’t help but feel something missing, and to me it’s identity.
Originally written for My Last Chapter
I'm sure I'm not the only person to compare Tyrants and Men to the popular Swedish band Amon Amarth, for in both its lyrical content and riffing construction, this Alaskan debut is quite similar. Not on a note for note basis, perhaps, and some credit could be granted here for some glorious patterns of composition which feel memorable and expertly layered, but Thousand Year War comes off like a blend of Twilight of the Thunder God and With Oden On Our Side with a bit of run-off from other melodic death metal giants Insomnium and Dark Tranquillity. The vocals are a bit more snarled than those of Johan Hegg, but the punch of the guitars is uncannily familiar. That said, if you enjoy this act's influences to a great extent, then there is no real reason to pass on what is regardless a strong debut.
The production here is enormously professional and clear, and it really only takes getting through a humdrum opening track ("Defiance") before you get to the juicy bits. "The Sea" is one of the strongest pieces here, building some finely twined melodic guitars into a steady, uprising gallop beneath the abusive vocals, and pay specific attention to the majesty of the bridge sequence. The next pair of cuts ("No Gods, No Masters" and the namesake "Thousand Year War") are pretty straight shots of Twilight of the Thunder God-like material with a storming subtext of double bass and meaty tremolo riffing; but I found that apart from "The Sea", most of the strongest songwriting comes in at the end with the brief but epic "One Final Breath", the belligerent "Spartacus" and the taut and mighty title track finale. In fact, just about all the nine originals are worth the while with the exception of "Defiance". It just doesn't possess the same caliber of hooks...
As an added surprise, Hiram Lohr has included a cover of I's "The Storm I Ride" from their 2006 debut Between Two Worlds. Obviously this is a crisper, punchier translation with more of a percussive edge to it, and I didn't find the vocals to hold quite the same character as those used by Abbath, but it's a tight job, even if it feels a little 'too soon' after the original. In general, the musicianship here is fairly top notch for the sub-genre, with Swedish drummer Fredrik Widigs (The Ugly, Soils of Fate) contributing a concrete battery comparable to those of a fellow Fredrik (Andersson). As I mentioned above, Tyrants and Men sounds fabulous for this style, the young band deciding to go 'big' and not go home, blazing loudly from whichever speaker applies. Lohr knows when the hammer, and when to slice. The lyrics are admittedly pretty generic in the ambiguous pagan aesthetic, with lots of storms and fire and thunder and trampling of Christians (Amon Amarth, Immortal, and I are all reference points), but overall it's a good listen, even if it feels that we've ridden these particular waves and waters before.
I'm new to Thousand Year War. I haven't heard their demo, or their EP, but I heard about them from a friend and decided to check them out. I'm really glad I did. I've never been a big fan of melodic death metal - in fact, the only melodic death metal band I have bought albums from is Kalmah. But listening to this, I find it a worthwhile album that I would happily get.
The music itself isn't incredible complex, and not innovative at all. This is about as classic melodic death metal as you can get, but don't let that turn you off: this is still really good. Like a lot of melodic death metal bands, the highlight of the album is by far the riffs. Especially in songs like No Gods, No Masters and Defiance, along with the title track, the riffs make the songs. The riffs aren't all that difficult, but they sound really great and strong. The riffs are extremely memorable and are played at a medium tempo, like most melodic death metal bands. The riffs are really similar to how Amon Amarth riffs are executed, and on par with the beast viking metal band. Solos are rare, and aren't that great, but the riffs more than make up for that.
Most of the album is a medium paced tempo, but in some songs, most notably Defiance, the drums speed it up. The drummer does a really nice job of keeping rythm, although I feel he could have done some more interesting things on the album. With that said, the guitars are the main highlight of the band, so maybe they didn't want to take away from the riffs.
The vocals switch off from a semi-high pitched growl to a low pitched, almost guttural growl. He switches back and forth from these two voices, usually using the semi-high pitched voice. The vocals were very impressive. He's a great growler, and to be able to do drastically different growling styles well is indeed impressive. I couldn't ask for better vocals, which is a complaint I have for a lot of bands.
The bass follows the guitar in every track except in the middle of the title track, where it strays off a little. I took off 10 points for that. I know it's somewhat harsh, but I really like my bass. I think with more bass this album would be one of the best of this year: hell, it's already in my top ten. If their next record includes more bass, they may be able to rival the greats of the genre like Amon Amarth and Kalmah.
This album isn't innovative or complex, but it's damned good. A fresh new band with a really strong debut is great. I think great things will come from Thousand Year War.