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Onward > The Neverending Sun > Reviews > hells_unicorn
Onward - The Neverending Sun

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.