Whether rampaging with the hearts of a hundred stallions or coaxing the senses with the melodic charm of a symphonic tempest, Thundergod the second album from power/heavy metallers Angels Of Babylon leaves a rather tasty flavour in the ear. It is not an album which consistently sparks the passions but when it does it is with furnace like intensity whilst the least successful moments of the release still captures a concentrated engagement with the listener.
Founded by former Manowar drummer Kenny “Rhino” Earl in 2008, Angels Of Babylon recruited strong acclaim with 2010 debut album Kingdom Of Evil, which featured Megadeth’s Dave Ellefson on bass. Line-up changes followed but now the potent force of Earl, vocalist Diego Valdez, guitarist Ethan Brosh, and bassist Steve Handel, return with the band’s new album and a powerful ear catching onslaught it is. With rampant rhythms and sinew bred riffs coursing the melodic expanses giving breath to the songs, Thundergod is a thoroughly enjoyable if inconsistent encounter and one which power and heavy metal fans you can only suspect will devour greedily.
The release starts and ends on an explosion of excellence which in many ways gives everything in between a formidable plateau to match, and though all valiantly try many pale in comparison to varying degrees. The title track starts off the release, its torrential charge of exhausting and contagious riffing speared by senses caging rhythms irresistible. It is automatically anthemic in energy and breath becoming virulently so with the vocals of Valdez impressively riding the heavy steer of sound and even more so again from the incendiary passion of the chorus. There is nothing to dislike or dismiss about the primal rock ‘n’ roll assault and it makes for the most compelling and epidemically tempting start to the album. Though there is plenty to get teeth into across the album, only closing track Bullet truly stands side by side on the same pedestal as the first song. Less intensive but equally as rapacious in energy and unrelenting persistence, the track is a tide of metallic aggression and melodic persuasion taking the passions by the scruff of the neck and sending them down a flume of delicious sonic invention. Predatory at its core and fiery in its guitar invention it is an exceptional tail to the mutually stunning head of Thundergod.
Between these highlights the skilfully accomplished likes of the emotive Sondrio with its soaring melodic caresses, the epically carved Queen Warrior, a song bringing carnivorous riffs and colour drenched keys into a pleasing union, and The Enemy ensure the release is never less than intriguing or satisfying, if at times predictable and walking the outskirts of being underwhelming. Each song does make strong company in their presence however you look at it through the excellent musicianship and vocals on offer but often without leaving anything to linger after their departure. There are exceptions as with the first two mentioned, with further highlights coming with the mesmeric White Star Line, its initial acoustic embrace merging through symphonic grandeur into an epic seduction of heavy metal passion and raging creative energy, keys and guitars sculpting a net of bewitching narrative and drums framing it all with understated yet hungry might.
Redemption stands further apart from the rest to also rival as best track, its heavy epic walls standing breathlessly over an imaginative pit of emotive fire and sonic enthrallment. It is an aural fascination and possibly the most inventive track on the album, certainly right to the fore as one of the most scintillating.
The Scarlet Records released Thundergod has everything a great heavy metal needs, passion, invention, and melodic ingenuity, it just fails to have enough hooks to secure the fullest ardour for its presence, when it does hit the nail though it is a monster of a treat.
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