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Titanic > Then There Was Rock > Reviews > hells_unicorn
Titanic - Then There Was Rock

A ship that sank before it could sail. - 77%

hells_unicorn, August 20th, 2012

The sheer irony of this band’s adopted namesake may not be immediately apparent, since most would associate the tragedy of The Titanic with a band that rose to high prestige before crashing and burning. But this short lived enterprise from New Haven Connecticut lives up to the story in almost every other respect, boasting a highly intricate and epic approach to heavy/power metal along similar lines to that of Manowar, Virgin Steele, and even the early 80s Ronnie Dio days of Black Sabbath. Everything is in place for a similarly powerful display of melody, technical flair and a glorious wall of sound approach that was all the rage circa the 70s, though something that was being supplanted by the mid 80s in favor of a more rhythmically tight and unified character in the emerging speed/thrash scene.

While definitely a well put together work of metallic intrigue, “Then There Was Rock” makes little secret of its hard rock flirtations, particularly on “The Otherside”, which embodies a lot of the same jazzy swinging and rockabilly elements that kept Kiss from being considered a metal band by the proper definition. Granted, even when this band gets really steeped in hard rock cliché, they still manage to present it in a manner that’s closer to the Iron Maiden debut or the first couple of Riot releases rather than the outright sex, drugs and rock n’ roll fluff that would put them in the Def Leppard camp. But for the most part, the general formula here dances back and forth between a riff happy, galloping character proper to early Maiden, or a mishmash of acoustic beauty and hard hitting majesty that tries to cut heads with the likes of “Battle Hymns”.

Interestingly enough, in spite of all the powerful performances by all the instrumentalists (taking after the same level of activity between guitar, bass and drums typical to 70s Black Sabbath), the linchpin of this operation is vocalist Robert Torres. Something about his ultra-sleazy scream mixed with the occasional airy croon during the ballad sections just marries itself to the music and simultaneously transcends it, almost along the same lines as Dio’s melodic hooks did on “Heaven And Hell”, rather than simply following the riff the way Ozzy’s would tend to. Sadly the songwriting doesn’t get nearly to the same level as the early 80s Sabbath era in question, because his voice is definitely cut out for it despite it’s close proximity with the nastiness of Brian Johnson, or Udo for a metal band example.

Given the fact that this band was held back by a lack of love from the labels and never broke out of obscurity during their brief stint in the mid 80s, this album would prove to be equally if not more difficult than procuring Angel Dust’s widely sought after 80s vinyl releases. But early heavy metal enthusiasts will definitely want to give this album a good once over, and the advent of mp3s has made that a relatively simple task. Apart from a production that’s about as rough and low-fi as a number of early 80s NWOBHM singles and falling a bit short of the ambitious influences at play, this is a fun listen that will greatly complement a steady diet of Saxon and 70s Judas Priest.