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The piercing missile of time's wrath. - 85%

hells_unicorn, October 19th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2013, CD, Mad Neptune

America has come to be known for a lot of things since the mid 1990s, but great heavy metal has generally not been one of them. There are a few token bands here and there such as Kamelot, most of which find more success touring in Europe, but much of the landscape on the western side of the Atlantic is dominated by halfwit metalcore acts or something that is mistakenly labeled as heavy metal but is more of a derivative alternative rock or nu-metal. To put it bluntly, the days of the heavy metal superstar basically died in the 80s insofar as the stars and stripes were concerned, save a handful of independent labels that are functioning below the proverbial radar. Much of what constitutes the non-extreme end of metal in America has had something to do with Lance King's label Nightmare Records at some point, and it may yet come to be that one of its recent alumni could turn the tide and spare us another decade dominated by the likes of Trivium and All That Remains.

Thus we are presented with A Sound Of Thunder, a band that doesn't mess around with a lot of modern novelties and delivers up a rock infused mode of heavy metal that is more often associated with Germany or Sweden of late. Adopting an obvious Sci-Fi aesthetic given their namesake's connection to a consequential Ray Bradbury tale, they find themselves in a very versatile place musically, being able to straddle the divide between classic 80s vibes and present day practices without missing a step. As a result, Time's Arrow manages to deliver a listening experience that merges the tried and true flavor of mid 80s Accept, Warlock, Judas Priest and Manowar with a post-2000s power metal feel that puts them in similar territory to that of Battle Beast, though being a bit less keyboard-happy and leaning a bit more towards a back-to-basics rugged character that is a bit more in line with the early 80s epic sound of Dio era Black Sabbath and Manowar.

It's a bit easy to obsess over the vocal prowess of front woman Nina Osegueda, whose edgy pop-singer meets occasional Joan Jett gruff does provide a needed distinctiveness to a somewhat derivative style, but the place where this album really brings home the goods is in the songwriting department. On the one end is a series of catchy, shorter and more to-the-point rockers such as "Let's Start A Fire" and "Power Play" that scream iconic 80s fodder from the Priest and Accept playbook with a cleaner version of Doro at the helm. But the true point of intrigue comes when the songs get a bit longer and more adventurous, resulting in a number of epics that exhibit a level of ambition in songwriting that is all but unheard of States side. One auspicious highlight from this bunch includes the duet with Blaze Bayley "My Disease", which mixes some Manowar oriented acoustic interludes with a chunky set of grooving heaviness that is somewhat reminiscent of Bayley's post-Maiden work. But the place where this album really breaks out is the towering title song "Time's Arrow", which is essentially a typical Iron Maiden styled epic masterwork with all the gallops and catchy hooks to send a thousand horns into the air, not to mention some ingenious keyboard additives to give it more of a time traveling feel.

While it wouldn't be fair to suggest that this band is the only metal act in America that is worth their salt, they definitely have the right combination of influences to challenge the garbage that passes for both metal and rock in mainstream circles, and offer it in a way that will probably be more accessible to much of what constitutes a typical audience in this part of the world. The only real weak spots on this powerful endeavor is arguably just a bit too much reliance on rock cliches, particularly on some of the more exclusively rock oriented songs such as "I Will Not Break" and "End Of The Road", both of which feel a little out of place next to what rounds out the rest of the album and tend to feel a bit like filler with lots of fancy guitar and bass work. But for a rock solid, ball busting metal experience that would make the likes of Saxon and Doro proud, it's impossible to go wrong with this.

Time's Arrow - 76%

Altair 4, July 16th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2013, CD, Mad Neptune

American heavy metallers A Sound of Thunder bring forth the fruits of their extremely successful Kickstarter campaign with 'Time's Arrow'. Well produced and well played, this album is certainly a step ahead many of their contemporaries in the field. Frontwoman Nina Osegueda wails and screeches her way into your skull, asserting her dominance over your comparatively feeble ears. Her pitch and full tone are A grade throughout, and Josh Schwartz shows true balance/restraint and vigor as the man behind all of the guitars. The rhythm section is confident and sounds quite well rounded, in particular, bassist Jesse Keen steals the spotlight a number of times. But despite a fantastic group of musicians and ace production, does 'Time's Arrow' amount to an ace of an album? Kinda.

It seems to me that the album is considerably front-loaded, as everything past track six seems to lose the fire and magic that made the others so captivating. The crowning jewel of the album is most definitely the title track, it's main riff and groovy, cosmic midsection define it as a truly memorable epic. "Queen of Hell", "Power Play" and "I Will Not Break" feature the most tactful musicianship, sensible song structures, and most definitely the best choruses (again, along with the title track, which is magnificent).

The weaker second half of the album is redeemed, however, by the appearance of Blaze Bayley in "You Are My Disease". Blaze in Iron Maiden never gelled well with me, but with A Sound of Thunder he sounds right at home. His voice interacting with Nina is a treat and he surprisingly holds up fairly well against/with her. But, as mentioned before, the album's second half disappoints with "Reign of the Hawklords", "End of the Road", and "Wastelands". These songs are well done and performed, but seem to plod along aimlessly, thrown together, they don't evoke the same energy and simply feel weak against the first six tracks.

All in all this is probably worth your money and certainly has some wonderful tracks on it. This is traditional heavy metal with rock & roll tinges. For the new, swelling wave of metal in America that grows year by year, A Sound of Thunder are among those at the tip of the spear. They've proven their true worth with this release in every aspect. Go forth and try a cup, I think you'll enjoy it.

Another Notch in the Belt - 92%

TheStormIRide, December 9th, 2013

A Sound of Thunder, is a heavy metal band hailing from the US capitol region of Washington D.C. The band has established a rather devout following in recent years, evidenced by the band's last two Kickstarter album funding campaigns which were overly successful, with the first reaching over $8000 (for Time's Arrow) and the latest more than doubling their initial goal of $10,000 (for the upcoming The Lesser Key of Solomon). It could be that the band listens to their fans, as cliché as that sounds. Then again, consistent quality never hurts. If you listened to the band's previous full length album, Out of the Darkness, you fully know what to expect, as the band's formula hasn't changed much, but if you're new to the band, expect top notch, diversified songwriting and one of metal's best female vocalists on the past decade.

The band's third full length album, Time's Arrow, was released by the band's own Mad Neptune Records in 2013. As I mentioned, the band turned to a crowd funding campaign to deliver this album to their fans, and the fans definitely got a solid album in return. Once again featuring Jesse Keen on bass, Chris Haren on drums, Josh Schwartz as the lone guitarist and the incomparable Nina Osegueda on vocals, Time's Arrow showcases over an hour of top notch traditional metal. There are energetic guitar driven anthems in tracks like “Power Play” and “I Will Not Break”, which showcase a fiery power metal side to the band with driving guitar riffs and double kick drums. Nina's vocals are a little harsher and more aggressive than usual, giving a rough edge to the tracks. While there aren't as many long, epic tracks as there were on Out of the Darkness, we do get the album's lone long player and namesake, “Time's Arrow”, which shows the band dancing between slow building surges and galloping traditional metal. Continuing to change tempos and expectations, A Sound of Thunder also bring forth a somber,yet quite sultry, melodic ballad in “I'll Walk With You”, which is probably one of Nina's most emotional vocal performances of her career. That all just shows how diverse Time's Arrow truly is. It's quite a surprise that a four piece can have a diverse offering like this and still maintain an identity of their own. A Sound of Thunder goes from epics, to scorching traditional metal to bluesy solos and back again without blinking an eye.

The guitars and bass lines are excellent, as tracks like “Queen of Hell” showcase a Screaming for Vengeance styled scorcher and “I Will Not Break” delves into a crunchy, foot stomping riff. Where Schwartz and Keen really shine at, though, are on the bluesy licks and solos during tracks like “End of the Road” and “Wasteland”, as the band delves into a more bluesy, jazz oriented sound that is still decidedly heavy metal. The drums are solid and consistently switch with the band without skipping a beat, but they aren't the most technical out there although it really doesn't have to be. As with their previous albums the true star of the show here is Nina Osegueda, who is quickly becoming one of the most enigmatic and energetic vocalists in metal. From her aggressive tones mentioned on tracks like “Power Play” and “Queen of Hell” to her emotional outpouring on “I'll Walk With You”, she completely nails her performance here. “My Disease” shows how strong of a vocalist Nina actually is, by placing her in a duet alongside Blaze Bayley of Iron Maiden fame. Bayley puts on a great performance, with his deep, bluesy crooning, but when Nina starts singing she completely wipes the floor with him, as she is more powerful, more emotional and just has a huge range. It's a cool idea and all to have a legend like Bayley on your album, but he was utterly outclassed here.

If you dig traditional heavy metal you need to dig into this ASAP. This is one of the best traditional metal albums of the year and, once again, shows A Sound of Thunder as a band to watch out for. Their upcoming The Lesser Key of Solomon will, no doubt, be just as good, but until then, I am going to continue immersing myself in the world of Time's Arrow. This is an awesome album that needs to be heard by more people. This is one of those bands that is worthy of your attention, so check them out now.

An Instant Rock Classic - 91%

SteveHNo96, June 16th, 2013

A Sound of Thunder is a band that has been around for some time but never really got the recognition they deserved. In fact, they even had to go to Kickstarter to raise $8,000 for their new album. If you look on the album, you will find the name of everyone who contributed money to make this album a reality. Of course, an album isn't just made or broken by fans that believe in the band or a righteous album cover, it all boils down to what's in the music, whether it's worth a glowing or a rotten review.

The energy level of this album is beyond comprehension. It ranges from mid-tempo with "End of the Road" to fervent and powerful with "I Will Not Break". This shows a diversity for the band and its members. Anyone can chug out 40 ear-bleeding rapid songs one after the other, or 40 slow songs that drag on for 10 minutes a piece. One of the talents of this band is their ability to keep you guessing.

Nina sings like a female version of Bruce Dickinson and Josh's guitar playing is sophisticated yet fascinating, one song he's taking it easy the next he's blistering out a furious tone that leaves you doing a double-take and saying "Wait a minute, WHAT am I listening to?" Jesse's bass and Chris's drum roles do exactly what they are supposed to do; support the music and add the sound that makes this band able to stand out from many others. In spite of their variance in playing ability, make no mistake about it, this band is pure heavy metal, the way most metalheads of the '70s and early '80s remember metal as being.

The operative word if you compared this album to earlier works like Metal Renaissance is polish. This band has done a lot to improve their sound since 2011. It shows in songs like "Power Play" and "I'll Walk With You". Both of these songs have crisp chords and emotional melodies, almost like you can feel the passion from the entire band saying "We have one chance to do this right, so let's kick this one's ass!"

Clocking in at about 64 1/2 minutes, these tracks are ones that you will find yourself enjoying and while most of the songs are shorter than that on Out of the Darkness, (with only the eponymous song exceeding 7 minutes in length), the plurality of these songs are still quite epic. The duet with Blaze Bayley on "My Disease" is well done, although sometimes I felt that Nina's singing outdid that of Blaze, he still managed to hold his own, and this is coming from a person who worried that Bayley had made Iron Maiden unlistenable.

In conclusion, Time's Arrow is a fantastic album full of something for everyone. If you like metal done in the '70s or '80s, fast and furious songs or slower and more relaxing music, this album will have at least one song you will like. Give it a listen, it will be worth your time. Maybe the album cover is an indicator after all, with all the energy exuded from it as a sign of what you'll hear when you play it. :)