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Intense and melodic, less progressive than their previous work - 75%

Wyrd2012, July 31st, 2020

British symphonic power metal quartet Damnation Angels is not a well-known band among fans of heavy metal music, but they are surprisingly adept at instrumentation and song writing. Their first singer, Norwegian YouTube star PelleK, left in 2015 and the band took some time before they landed Argentinian singer Ignacio Rodriguez (Iggy Rod). Iggy Rod adds a new dimension of intensity and subtlety to the band's sound and with him, they do sound different than with PelleK. The main creative motor behind the band's music, guitarist Will Graney ("The Maestro"), delivers once again strong riffs and hooks, as well as technically smooth solos, but perhaps the songs on this album are best remembered for their anthemic choruses.

"A Fiber of Our Being" will likely please fans of several types of hard-rock and melodic heavy metal, but could also disappoint some. The three bands, which Damnation Angels resemble in this album, are Kamelot, The Rasmus, and Royal Hunt. The attempt to produce a more modern sound within the traditional melodic power metal universe reminds of Kamelot's recent albums. On the other hand, unlike Kamelot's diverse use of keyboards, Damnation Angels tend to stick to a much more limited blend of keyboard sounds. The added pop/electronic elements in some of the songs at times make the sound very Rasmus-esque, but Iggy Rod's more intense and slightly hoarse vocals add a different dimension altogether from that of Lauri Ylönen's voice. Then, the orchestrated keyboards and symphonic elements in songs like "Rewrite the Future" and "Remnants of a Dying Star" sound remarkably like Royal Hunt. There are also echoes of older hard-rock titans, such as Rainbow.

Several songs stand out--the title track, "A Fiber of Our Being," the tempo-changing "Greed and Extinction," and the closing track, "A Sum of Our Parts." The epic "Remnants of a Dying Star" is perhaps too long at 13:00 minutes, although the second part of the song features multi-layered instrumentation that rises and rises in intensity. Many of the songs also feature the band's trademark long choir-like backing vocals (reminiscent of Coldplay's Chris Martin). There are two ballads, "Our Last Light" and "A Sum of Our Parts," with the latter one being the stronger (its beginning is memorably ambient by featuring female vocals and a cello).

Overall, the album mixes adeptly melodic power metal with symphonic elements, as well as returns back to a more classical stadium/hard rock sound with infusion of pop-rock moments. The choruses are strong and stick after just one listen. But, there are also moments, in which some of the songs feel like they could use a better mixing in order to bring out Graney's guitar more, or in order to make Iggy Rod's main vocal lines clearer. Furthermore, those who favor progressive metal are likely to remain disappointed by this album due to the band's notable scaling back of progressive elements (in comparison to their previous albums). I suspect that if this is your first Damnation Angels album, you will be pleasantly surprised by how skilled Graney's guitar playing is. His solos in this album, however, while technically good, are not particularly inspiring or all that memorable. Iggy Rod's strong vocal delivery of the choruses is the element, in my opinion, that is most noticeable here.

In an old interview, PelleK (the previous singer) mentioned that Graney wrote songs very slowly and very meticulously. It took Damnation Angels five years to release "A Fiber of Our Being" (the album was actually recorded in 2019) and the time spent in perfecting the songs lead to a strong output (with some weaker moments, as noted above). In the end, is this album better than the previous ones? Personally, I don't think so, mostly due to the scaling back of progressive elements and due also to the infusion of more pop/electronica. But, Iggy Rod's addition worked out really well and I remain interested in the band's future work.