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Onward > The Neverending Sun > Reviews > Noktorn
Onward - The Neverending Sun

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.