Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2021
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

Terrible production but otherwise very good - 82%

Noktorn, April 22nd, 2009

First things first, the drum machine is pretty bad and the production is very flat and degraded; the vocal and guitar tones are weirdly striated and unnatural sounding, and this album would have been substantially better with a more typical production job. That being said, even the bad production can't really rob the songwriting of its excellence; Onward plays traditional US-style power metal like the best of them despite their relative obscurity. Though perhaps a bit too long for its own good, 'The Neverending Sun' is still a very strong piece of oldschool power metal in a style that's been all but forgotten. Get past the production job and you'll find a band in the style of greats such as Jag Panzer which deserves much more attention.

Rather predictably, this album is based on the constantly dueling nature of guitars and vocals. The riffs are extremely solid on this release, ranging from speedy modern power metal numbers to more rock-infused, almost Mötley Crüe passages and back to traditional US power metal. While the guitar tone is a bit plasticky, particularly in the high end, the riffs are powerful enough to make up for it, being consistently catchy and never failing to propel the music forward. Lead guitar is used very effectively to augment the riffs with a bit of improvisational flair, and the solos... well, they're solos I suppose; solos have never been something I've been particularly fixated on, but they're inoffensive here and occasionally catchy, which I suppose makes them good enough.

The other half of this album is the vocal dimension, and in all honesty, these are some phenomenal clean vocals, soaring without ever going into cheesy territory. Operating at a fairly constrained range gives them a more serious quality that appeals to one such as myself who's not utterly entrenched in the more colorful aspects of power metal. Despite the more restrained qualities of the voice, however, the performance itself and vocal tone is spectacularly well executed, giving a substantial amount more life to the music than it would otherwise have had with another vocalist. Bouncing neatly off the riffs and and rhythms, they're really a joy to hear.

The songwriting is solid and generally verse/chorus in nature, and although some tracks can get a bit too long for their own good, this album generally has a very solid sense of pacing and dynamics throughout. It's a pleasing listen in spite of its rather questionable production values, and I can really recommend this to all the oldschool USPM fans out there who can stomach the drum machine; there's a tremendous amount of worthwhile material to be found on this disc, and Onward on the whole is a band which deserves a great deal more attention than they've received. Most certainly worth a look from just about everyone.

Good album, bad production. - 76%

hells_unicorn, November 30th, 2008

Onward play a traditionally oriented style of power metal, based in the U.S. traditions that were first set down by the likes of Armored Saint, Helstar, early Overkill, Agent Steel, Jag Panzer and a few others who were responding to the phenomenon of the NWOBHM. This involves large sounding, pummeling, and often galloping riffs that pretty closely resemble the Diamond Head approach, but without the blazing speed of the thrash bands that were also reacting to their music. There is also a greater amount of melodic material found in the lead guitar work that was inherited from Iron Maiden, resulting in something that is epic and heavy, but also fairly formulaic and easy to follow.

The greatest asset that the band has on this album is vocalist Michael Grant, who essentially combines all of the best elements of James Rivera, Harry Conklin, and the cleaner aspects of Eric Adams’ singing into a nice, compact package. Playing off an epic collection of amazing riffs like those heard on “Mind Bomb”, the speed and fury melodic “The Neverending Sun”, and the heavy stomping turned semi-thrash bruiser “Dawn Of Our Only Day”, he proves to be among one of the more versatile clean singers to come out of the current crop of American bands. He seems a little bit more limited range-wise in comparison to most of the singers that he emulates, but he compensates for it well with a high quality of voice.

The formula on this album is pretty solid from start to finish, unrelenting from the straight up riff monster “Beyond The Strong” to the multifaceted and perhaps mildly progressive epic closer “Triad”, which deviates a little bit from the traditional USPM format, but is still a solid song. The only problem is the production, which basically almost sounds like it’s a reasonably well put together demo. It lacks the dimensions of most of the 80s albums that it emulates, particularly as far as the drums are concerned. If they’d tinkered with the mixing a little and put some reverb in to give the rhythm section some dimensions, this would have been much better.

This is hampered pretty heavily by the limitations of the production, but is mostly a solid release that should sit well with the older guard in the power metal fan base. It adheres to the traditions set by the early bands quite well, although some of the guitar soloing gets a little bit too bluesy at times and clashes with the rest of the arrangement. Not quite essential, but a good pick up if you already own most of the classics.