Though individually classic rock and heavy metal extinguishes more fires than they spark up for us here and together make for a blend which has difficulty inspiring any real enthusiasm, the new album from UK rockers Hundred Days has to be put down as an exception. Mission Exodus is not a release win any major honours in our personal preferences but does leave a rather satisfied and unexpected enjoyment in its wake. The band merge the two mentioned genres in their own stirring at times raw yet expansive design to create songs which leave in varying degrees a firmly positive mark.
The seeds of the band began back in 2002 with the beginning of X-teller, the group containing the three members of Hundred Days. Releasing two albums and a duo of EPs to good acclaim as well as multiple tours, the band split in 2006. After a year off guitarist/vocalist Stuart Curtin, bassist Simon Evans, and drummer Ryan Leese emerged with new sounds and a new name. Debut album How a War is Won the following year set up strong responses which the following Rise EP of 2009 easily built upon. Tours across the UK and festival appearances plus the supporting of Hugh Cornwall has lifted their profile continually and with Mission Exodus, the next step in their marked evolution, things look set to really accelerate for the Yeovil trio. Despite personal prejudices a few meetings with the album won over most doubts and reminded what great rock music was all about.
Mission Exodus is themed by the premise of “A near future where the world is split and on the brink of self-destruction, reliving the last months of the lives and experiences of people of the world and half the population leave Earth to find a new home”. The band brings an epic feel to their sound which permeates some tracks and in others the band offers a smaller more precise presence making for a very pleasing mix.
The title track roars into life off of a sci-fi intro to set the album off in impressive style. Heated guitars light up the air as the classic metal styled vocals of Curtin forge a path for the unfolding tale. Into its stride and spreading atmosphere, the grand scale of the journey envelops the ear through orchestral borne weaves. It is when the tight and incendiary groove breaks free though that the song really takes a firm grip, its infectious lure the platform for excellent guitar play and vocal flourishes to charge the senses.
The impressive start is followed by the equally powerful and fiery Taste Of Convenience. It is fair to say no song crashes into uncharted territories but as here the recognisable soundscape is delivered with undeniable skilled craft and eager passion leaving one thrilled. The track rampages with sturdy rhythms and bulging basslines for an immediate compulsion which the driving riffs and inventive melodic shards only accentuate.
The bluesy What We Do and the emotively charged Burn in Hell continue the attention grabbing might of the release, though neither quite matches the opening pair ultimately. That is soon remedied by arguably the best track on the release in Suicide Joe. There is punk/thrash energy to its breath which easily fires up the imagination whilst its adrenaline and again well crafted body ensures a constantly enthralling companion.
The album contains two covers which unfortunately are two songs that have never found anything other than negativity here, Power Of Love and Live & Let Die. Both tracks are well delivered and interpreted by the band, the latter a strong live cut, but both only go to remind why the tracks were disliked originally. They feel like fillers to be honest which is a shame as the album is so full and rounded without and did not really need them. For fans of the songs though it is an extra accomplished treat.
To rival for best song there is the wonderful Whatever Happened to You, a delicious blues/jazz track with a swagger and unreserved contagion to match its cheeky joy. Lyrically it is as mischievous as its brief musical stay and leaves one grinning contentedly.
Released through Rogue Rock Records, Mission Exodus is a great release which will make an enterprising and impressive addition to the playlists of any heavy rock fan, a must investigate.
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