It is certainly not an EP you will be shouting from the rooftops over but Shrine, the debut release from US melodic metallers Ashes Of Tyranny has despite its flaws enough to get your teeth and lingering interest into. First of all it has songs which constantly grab attention and even if many need more work to find their pinnacles they consistently leave a level of satisfaction which inspires returns. Equally there is a musicianship and invention which grabs attention and though the album does not offer anything new it offers a craft and strength to the core of its tracks which mark the band as one of strong promise.
Apparently the seeds of the Kansas based go back around a decade with vocalist/rhythm guitarist Jamison Brummel and lead guitarist Adam Caylor playing and writing together initially in the version of what was to become Ashes Of Tyranny called the Jamie and Adam show. Numerous changes and a few band names followed with bassist Dave Miller becoming another of the consistent members when joining around seven years ago alongside Caylor and Brummel. From at one point seeming the end of the band the trio emerged again as Ashes Of Tyranny, and listening to their first album one assumes at their most creative.
The release opens with Demolition Man, a single guitar caress lighting the ear before vocals and the rest of the band step forward with eagerness coated sinews. The riffs which drive the song are laid back but hold a carnivorous breath to their muscular presence whilst drums and bass prowl and push the senses with intimidation and strength. It is a strong and pleasing start but one which clearly suggests some issues which the rest of the release confirms. The main two are the production and vocals, which are linked rather than singularly bringing problems. Brummel has a more than decent voice, his melodic tones and further into the EP grittier delivery right for the music but they also come over flat, without a spark to match the rigorous sounds. It is enough to deflate the impact of the song though not to keep them from attracting attention more often than not, and tied into and a result of the equally bland and uninspiring, DIY suggested production.
The following title track opens with gentle vocal harmonies across a great twang voiced guitar before launching into a cavalcade of rampant riffs and thumping rhythms, the chugging gait of the guitars almost thrash toned as they respectfully but incisively romp through the ear. Like the first, the song has a familiarity to it but also a hook and melodic poise which makes for a pleasing companion despite the mentioned continuing negative aspects, and easily has thoughts and emotions engaged if not seduced. The same can be said of the likes of The Rag Man, a track with a weak start, again more due to the production, but steels itself for an effective presence once into its full stride, and the intense Start the Flood. This song is one of the biggest highlights, the stirring mix of paces, vocals, and imaginative enterprise energising the already in place notion that Ashes of Tyranny has plenty inside and a future promise which is calling out from within the release for greater opportunities, certainly studio wise to show itself.
Shrine does get better as it progresses, songs such Satisfy bringing another notable moment to the release whilst the emotive For You stretches the variety of the songwriting again with its rich melodic provocation. Still the production is doing songs and vocals no favours but looking beyond these limitations and you sense there is a gem of a release waiting to escape. The closing pair of Suffer and Deathbringer satisfyingly completes what is an enterprising release. The best way is to look at Shrine as a demo, certainly production wise it falls into that raw basic status, but one bringing a suggestion of what could emerge. Vocally a snarl to the delivery might elevate things but to be honest you can only feel the problems would be ironed out in a good studio.
Shrine actually reminds of The Catalyst from US melodic metal band Resin. It too was a debut of definite appeal but was flat in its presence, but given the opportunity the band followed it with an album, Truth Be Told, which revisited the same songs and more and emerged as one of the very best undiscovered releases. We suggest Ashes Of Tyranny might do the very same thing ahead but for now their EP is well worth a look as you wait.
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