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One of the greatest USPM albums of the modern age - 92%

Jophelerx, December 9th, 2013

After quitting the project New Eden, which no one has really heard about (for good reason), Dan DeLucie, along with former New Eden bandmates Nardo Andi and Brian Craig, formed the band Destiny's End, joining forces with guitarist Perry Grayson (Isen Torr) and well-known vocalist James Rivera of Helstar fame. Their debut full-length, Breathe Deep the Dark, was released in 1998 and was decently well-known in power metal circles due to Metal Blade trying to whore it out to a broad variety of customers as much as possible. Thus, I'd say that Breathe Deep the Dark definitely got the recognition it deserved; it's a very solid album all around, although it focuses more on the speed/thrash aspects than the USPM ones. A lot of people seem to at least know of it, and everybody who's heard it seems to highly enjoy it - multiple people have even told me it was what got them into power metal, or at least USPM, which is definitely a quality achievement. The follow-up album, however, gets much less recognition, which is definitely a shame considering it's a major step up.

The album was released with a production apparently different than what the band intended; while it's not bad and doesn't detract from the album that much, Perry Grayson has made the entire album available to download in its original form on his blog, The Falcon's Fortress. While I'd recommend buying the album is possible, the sound on the alternate mix is significantly better and it's what I typically listen to these days. Some of the background vocals are improved and the guitar and drum sounds are a bit crunchier, so it depends on what you like really. I'm going to comment on the alternate mix as I've heard it more often and more recently, but the songwriting is identical and I've already identified the production differences so the descriptions should be relevant to both mixes.

The thrash influence from the first album is almost completely dropped here, which is fine by me as the debut was too aggressive for me at times. The songwriting here is very DeLucie, as he was the primary riff-writer. If you've heard Crescent Shield, the guitar work is definitely comparable - very, very similar to the style on The Stars of Never Seen in particular. A focus on speedy, galloping riffs topped with sweet leads and solos and occasionally breaking into clean interludes. The main difference between Destiny's End and Crescent Shield's guitar work is that the Thin Lizzy influence that shows through in Crescent Shield ("The Past Once Chosen", "Lifespan") isn't really seen here much at all, which again is fine by me, as I don't really think it ever fit well with DeLucie's style (nor Grant's for that matter). Parts of "First You Dream, Then You Die" have it, but it's not a problem as Rivera's vocal lines go much better with this sort of riffing than Grant's. This is streamlined, unadulterated USPM; no ballads, no interludes, no drop in quality at any point in the album. Very few albums, comparatively, are really able to achieve that, so Transition is definitely something special.

Rivera's vocal lines are great as well, as of course is his performance. For those familiar with Helstar, it's a more mature, controlled approach a la Nosferatu rather than his rawer, wilder approach on the first three albums. I definitely prefer this approach, and while there are definitely strengths to both, this approach is much more suited to the album's complex, thoughtful, slightly technical style. Of course, the album's not perfect and some songs are bound to be better than others; "Storm Clouds" is merely solid rather than excellent, as it is sort of a half-ballad (I know, I said no ballads, but it's got enough metal that I don't really consider it primarily one), which are generally way harder for metal bands to write well than metal songs. Still, as I said, it's solid, and doesn't detract from the album at all.

The other songs range from great to fucking excellent, with "A Choice of Graves" being the worst (still great) and "From Dust to LIfe" being the best. Other than "Storm Clouds" there aren't any significant changes in writing style from song to song; it's all dark, riffy USPM. I doubt the album would have been that much more successful even with the alternate mix as it just didn't have that much promotion, but it's a damn fine USPM album - one of the best ever, and easily in my top 5 of the 21st century. Get the album if you want, but if you're going to download it definitely stop by the Falcon's Fortress and get the Joe Floyd mix - either way the album is great, but it's definitely superior.