Exploding out from the depths of the underground, Tides of War the debut album from Canadian metallers Chariots of The Gods, is quite simply sensational, a metal album of the highest order. It offers no indulgency or pretences to mislead on paper or aurally, but openly knows what it is good at and delivers those aspects with a passion and force which few other bands certainly recently have matched. Fusing diverse textures and sounds from melodic metal, thrash, and death, their music and album is simply a tour de force of metal.
Formed in 2007 by guitarist Mathieu St-Amour alongside bassist Christian Methot and guitarist Christian Carrière, the Ottawa band grew into a quintet with the addition of drummer Rich O’Neil and vocalist Renaud Jobin. Soon impressing live, the band released to very strong responses their Reverence EP in 2010. The release pushed them onto another level locally and sparked better opportunities live for the band, though the end of the same year going into the next saw the departure of Methot and Carrière. Moving forward though Chariots of the Gods brought in long-time friend and guitarist Dimitri Gervais and bassist Payam Doryani and set about laying waste with their towering sound. The band has bruised stages alongside the likes of Misfits, Voivod, Despised Icon, Kataklysm, Blind Witness, Misery Index, Martyr, Fuck the Facts, Blackguard, Neuraxis, and The Agonist, over the years and now burst into the world with their triumphant first full length release.
The Glen Robinson (Gwar, Annihilator, Queensryche, Voivod) produced album is a thrilling tempest of insatiable riffs, rhythms which make demands no one should be forced to take but do willingly, and deliciously confrontational vocals. Spread throughout there is also a melodic and sonic enterprise which burns like an invigorating furnace and combined the result is one of the most impressive metal albums in recent years. Self released, Tides of War immediately from its dramatic and compelling opening instrumental Overture has a hold over the ear and thoughts. It is brief yet the perfect atmospheric lure into the epic intensity and drive of the album starting with the ravaging Seventh Weapon. The first seconds consists of thumping beats and sizzling guitar twists around the ear before expelling a ferocious breath through the squalling scowls of Jobin and an avalanche of rhythms. Now settled into its fearsome charge the track towers over the senses with the intensity and expansive reach of a storm. Across its bristling sinews and colossal breath, the track unleashes a whip lash triggering attack from O’Neil, exceptional and fiery melodic persuasion from the guitars of St-Amour and Gervais, and an irresistible raptorial vocal devouring.
As in the first full song, Blind Assassin reveals the prowling might of bassist Doryani; it is not always an aspect with as much clarity as the other elements but removed would undoubtedly leave a big gaping hole and when the heavily consuming notes find clarity of voice, the songs just bulge with impressive shadows. The third track is a less forceful entity than its predecessor with a sonic elegance which lays rough caresses over the ear, though it is not lacking any demanding spirit or heart either. It arguably pales a little against the previous track but outshines so many efforts from other artists.
Each and every track is immense and in varying degrees offers hints of the influences which vein the sound. Within the likes of Ambrosian Wings, the Russian Revolution inspired pair of the crushing Revillusion (1905) and the voracious Severing the Bloodline (1917), and the violently smouldering Red Skies, as examples, essences of the likes of In Flames, Norther, Testament, Lamb of God, and August Burns Red are apparent and add extra spice to the rich sonic menu of the band. As to be expected some songs reach the highest pinnacles and the biggest highlights on Tides of War come firstly with the title track. It is a thunderous rampage of sizzling guitar magnetism and invention driven by again the tumultuous and outstanding rhythms of O’Neil. It is the perfect blend of aggression and melodic persuasion which chews up the senses whilst treating them to a fine dining of sonic imagination. Further lofty heights come with the senses grasping and obliterating Collapse of an Empire with its delicious spearing flames of melodic intrigue, and the corrosive and glorious Unbound which also features Aleksi Sihvonen from Norther.
The album is not just intensity and brawling aggression though as to perfectly break up the onslaught there are a couple of compelling instrumentals in the enthralling shapes of Snow Falls On The White River (1914) and Nebula, both beautiful pieces of music in their very different guises and far from interludes and fillers.
Tides of War is an exceptional creative ambush for the heart with a rage of the fullest rewards and an expressive depth of unbridled undiluted metal. You may not have heard of Chariots of The Gods before now but that is sure to change very soon as their album is exposed to the wider world.
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