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Awakening The Hydra - 40%

Buarainech, January 31st, 2014

On paper at least, Warrion might be seen as something of a US Heavy/Power Metal supergroup. On closer inspection though we see that drummer Rob Brug has only been with Halloween for their most recent 2 albums whilst Tim Thomas' position in Abattoir, and formerly Hirax and Agent Steel, is as little more than a stand-in. One might expect then that it is the experience and expertise of original and still-serving Aska bassist Keith Knight and Obsession frontman/former Loudness and Ywingie J. Malmsteen vocalist Michael Vescera that will be leading the charge here. Certainly this is similarities to all the above bands, but given that the band name is taken from lead guitarist Ron Ravi Warrion's surname I get the feeling that this is just a one man ego-trip show with an all-star cast to give it credibility- and there is certainly evidence to suggest that in the music.

To be blunt, the songwriting for the most part leaves a lot to be desired. Opening track “Awakening The Hydra” starts off strong but blows its load by going into its, frankly pretty weak, chorus refrain too early and lyrically and structurally-speaking is far too simplistic. The playing from all the hired hands is pretty tight, but Michael Vescera sounds almost bored on this track and follow up “Carnage”, and the vocals overall have a disconnected feel. It sounds like it could be any number of averagely-written, poorly produced private press USPM albums from the 80's re-recorded in a modern studio, or more likely these songs have been rigidly reproduced from the songbook pages of the very inexperienced Ron Ravi Warrion without the input of his veteran compatriots.

From there the album thankfully takes a massive upswing in quality. Starting with “Adversity” Michael Vescera finally seems to have gotten into it and delivers a sterling, powerful melodic vocal performance. The chorus to “Victim Of Religion” has a sweet Halloween-like feel of dread to it while there are some cool layered vocal effects on “Serpent's Fire” and “Savage” is a decent stab at the melodic Euro-Metal style of Tarot, early Stratovarius and fellow Americans Kamelot. They even manage to make an interesting instrumental with “Invocation” which may be a sign that Warrion has allowed some creative control to be handled by his bandmates who know better than he, but unfortunately the trick is not repeated with the awkward and jarring flamenco-esque closing instrumental “Earth Fire Water Spirit.”

The ball is further dropped as the album concludes on a completely unnecessary reprise (and I don't mean an altered version or take, I literally mean the same bit as before replayed) of the weak chorus to “Awakening The Hydra” and leaves on a note that, despite showing moments of promise by better utilising his experienced friends, Warrion's first foray into Metal has still been a bit of an amateur hour. It is far from terrible and the room to improve is there, but I think that Ron Ravi will really have to bring Keith Knight and Michael Vescera into the songwriting process next time round more fully. [4/10]

From WAR ON ALL FRONTS A.D. 2013 zine-

Someone get that hydra a coffee - 65%

Andromeda_Unchained, November 17th, 2013

When thinking about Warrion’s debut full-length Awakening The Hydra, I can’t help but remember other bands who have put forth hydra related material, such as Omen and Twisted Tower Dire. Hell it even springs to mind that hydra at the waterfall in Dark Souls (although nowhere near as butt-clenching), but I digress. Warrion are a brand spanking new US heavy/power metal act, and I guess taking into context the aforementioned bands, they serve as a fairly good jumping off point to the sound of Warrion.

I’d have to say straight off the bat, that the strongest element of their sound is singer Michael Vescera, who I’m sure you’ll know from a gamut of other acts. The guy is a first class vocalist with a strong high register, and gives Warrion a professional timbre that some of their music lacks. Although that isn’t to say these guys are juvenile, or inexperienced, I just feel their sound would benefit from some slight refinement.

The album is short at just over half an hour, although there’s certainly quite a bit going on. Warrion kick off to a boisterous start with the album’s title track, and whilst it’s enjoyable, it hearkens back to what I was saying earlier about refinement. The chorus to this is fun and memorable, in part due to its repetitiveness, although Michael really shines with his high range and layered approach. They revisit the chorus in a reprise at the end of the album too, which leads me to guess this is a concept release, what with the instrumental interludes and such, but alas I don’t have the lyrics to find out for sure.

The rest of the material is thankfully solid, with that distinct eighties US power metal vibe going on, “Adversary” is another strong song with some rollicking riffs and again, Michael’s quality vocals. Warrion provide a lot of energy which is good, and outside of the vocals stands as their most endearing quality. If they could refine their sound into a stronger, more fluent package and better integrate their instrumentals (of which there are a few) I think the band could really be onto something.

With good performances, a great singer and a load of energy Warrion certainly do a fair bit right on their debut, and as I’ve stressed the only negative feeling I have towards Awakening The Hydra is the lack of refinement; which I would like to hope is sorted next time around. For now though, this is an enjoyable release that you should definitely pick up if you have a love for underground US power metal.

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