new and different - 100%
The album starts off with Into The Shadow which has this awesome semi-speedy riff (but not thrasy... more speed metal or power metal, I believe) that all of a sudden has bass and I believe a second guitar kick in behind it and this awesome vocal "HEYYYYY!" come in. The riff chugs along for awhile and then in come the vocals. Great chorus type singing too, it's very unexpected. I think Hansi of Blind Guardian would be hard pressed to match this! The guitar solo is also very awesome and tasteful, no screw ups or anything. Flawless technique and great chops.
Then comes The Sacred Dragon, the title track. This song is very well done, with a much slower riff. Then about midway through the song, the riff cuts out and just the drums and this awesome bass line bridge comes in and it's really cool and something I've never heard in a song before, as it goes on and on until the solo starts. Points for originality and the guitar kickin on top of the bass. Great vocals and an epic track clocking in at just over 7 minutes!
The Last Autumn starts out with a bass intro solo that is very Black Sabbath N.I.B.-ish, in the sense of how good of a bass player had to have written it. It's smooth and sounds insane to play. In fact, the entire track is this bass solo and it's unexpectedly perfect!
Then comes the steady tempo of City of Sin. The vocals on this song are different (different singer, I believe), but fit the different style of the song in my opinion. Still rather upbeat and happy sounding, the guitar riffs are the shining moment here.
Next up is my favorite track from the whole album, called The Reaper. It's like in your face fast and the riff sounds insane. It's not your usual power chords, it's this really fast riff that has some sort of harmony and it's just a ton of notes. But they all flow so smoothly, Egon sounds like he's some sort of Yngwie J. Malmsteen! The guitar solo on this song and the vocals are the best on the whole album, absolutely astounding. I can't say enough good things about this track, everybody should hear this song from this album if nothing else!
Coming next is the clean intro to Starlit Eyes, a sweet little track that is a great change-up in feel for the album. It flows between distorted riffage and the clean part with vocals woven over it, very classy and metal.
Then comes Rainbow Moon, with the same distinct guitar sound but a completely different style of riff. A very cool solo on this song too, melodic and fast (but not too fast, just right).
After that comes The Devil's Stand which is another really crazy riff that reminds me of Jag Panzer with it's crazy climbing sound it gives off and the great dark low vocals that go over it. What a great scream this guy has too, reminds me of Jon Oliva from Savatage! It's a more mild tempo song, to boot. The solo is completely melodic, with good bends and vibrato. Some guitar skill, indeed!
Finally, the album is done with the epic track The Forgotten Castle (The Castle In Black). It clocks in at over 11 minutes long, and starts out with a guitar riff. Then the guitar drops out, and in come the vocals with just bass. It's a very good mix. The guitar solo here is the second best on the album, showing a wide array of licks and styles. The first part is bluesy, with it's stopping and starting (coming in and out, not just solid playing), and not wankery at all. The high string shreddingly fast licks fit the slow riff perfectly, a decent compliment.
this album was quite a masterpiece. In fact, I believe this band could
easily get signed to a major label and release this album as is (the production
as is... is actually pretty good). But if you ever get a chance to get
ahold of this, go for it. At least try and track down the track "The
Reaper" and give it a listen - trust me, you won't be disappointed.
In fact, you might find yourself sucked into their music just like I was.
Definite props to Egon for creating an awesome band full of people with
great musicianship (even if they are just guests), just like himself!