The new album from Alaskans Thousand Year War creates a very satisfying blend of old school melodic death and black metal with other classic metal flavours resulting in an interesting and at times enthralling array of powerful and direct sounds. Tyrants And Men may not be exactly rippling in originality but it delivers metal that stirs up the senses with creative essences alongside its pummelling assaults.
From Anchorage and begun in 2008, Thousand Year War for this album is guitarist and vocalist Hiram Lohr with session musicians Kellen on bass and drummer Fredrik Widigs. Released via Abyss Records, Tyrants And Men took time to find its way into the world’s ears. While working as a commercial fisherman to finance it the album was recorded by Lohr at Garden Studios in Anchorage with Kellen, it was then upon the failure to find a skilled drummer at home sent across to Fredrik Widigs (The Ugly And Desultor) in Sweden summer of 2009 to lay down a drum track. Once passed on then to be mixed and mastered by Fredrik Lunneborg of Primecut Studios in Sweden, the album was presented before Dan Ferguson of Abyss Records leading to the band being signed and its release in September of this year. It may have taken time but has proven well worth the wait.
The album, as a great many others have also said has a distinct Amon Amarth flavour to it and if a fan of their striking and powerful sounds Tyrants And Men will be a definite winner. Rampant riffs, striking flowing guitars and incisive solos, plus a vocal mix of guttural growls and higher pitched screams fly from the tracks with ease and strong ability. Though the album does not venture often too far from expected melodic death metal sounds and craft it is definitely one of the more accomplished releases lately in sound and production.
Lyrically the album deals with the duality and opposition between the ruling evil elite running the world and the people, who are constantly battling to turn the world we live in around with truth, not power and wealth. The theme is as powerful as the sounds and adds a good deeper dimension to the release.
There is a good strong level across the album, each track holding its own and giving great satisfaction but some moments really show the band as a future force as well as a more than decent band right now. ‘The Sea’ is a lively blend of great melodic guitars and grooves rippling beneath the intense vocals and drums, and its successor ‘No Gods, No Masters’ an irrepressible blast of dark rock ‘n’ roll that eagerly pounds away with enthused energy. It may not be the more original track on the album but it is undeniably one of the more exiting. The one song that lifts its head highest is ‘Open Casket’, breaking out on a classic rock riff not out of place in a Maiden song the track brings in some smart and intricate guitar play that lights up the dark mood fuelling the song. Every song on the album has its moment though and it is impossible to find a weak track anywhere.
The downside to the album? There is not much apart from the previously mentioned lack of anything really new or unpredictable. There is also an overall sameness across some of the tracks but with honesty could not that be levelled at the majority of releases these days to some degree? Thousand Year War has produced an album that more than can hold its own against any other and makes the thirty five minutes plus a very worthwhile and agreeable use of time and that can easily be repeated again and again.