Empires Of Eden - Songs Of War and Vengeance (Activist Music)

What do you get when melodic metal is fused with insane fretwork and epic vocal performances? Empires Of Eden's debut album Songs Of War and Vengeance. Prepare your ears for the aural assault.

Never being one to sit down and take a break, legendary Australian fretboard master Stu Marshall (Pain Division, ex-Dungeon) decided to start another project under the moniker of Empires Of Eden, which is comprised of melodic vocals, heavy yet melodic guitar work, and some insane lead guitar work in the debut release Songs Of War And Vengeance (Activist Music).

The epic, shred-laden intro of Dawn Of Fire leads the way for the opening track, New Hope, which screams old school power metal. But it doesn't stop there, the momentum flows with plenty more choice cuts, such as the pure hard rock cut in Empires Of Eden, the speed metal-inspired Through Eternity, the dark, mid-paced groover in Dark Religion, the down-tuned thrasher in Chaos In Black. Though the grand, epic closers in Fires Of Torment and Black Endings/Echoes Of Oblivion do tend to be a little bit over the top, they still fit in as a whole.

Musically, Marshall handles the majority of the guitars, bass guitar and the orchestration to a high level. The rhythms are tight and engine-like precise. He also enlists the help of some fellow guitarists, such as Lord's Lord Tim and Mark Furtner, Vanishing Point's Chris Porcianko, Argument Soul's Yoshiyasu Maruyama and Pain Division's Ben Thomas, to contribute some blistering guest guitar solos. These will make many a guitarist want to pack their guitars away and go take up knitting instead.

In the vocal department, Marshall has enlisted some very talented individuals in former Transcending Mortality vocalist Mike Zoias, who nails an excellent vocal performance in the power ballad-like The Reckoning. Sydney session vocalist Chris Ninni delivers a dominant and powerful performance in Blood Of An Angel, complementing the track's down-tuned riffage in a match made in heaven (or hell?). The majority of the vocals are performed by Crimsonfire vocalist Louie Gorgievski, who has an amazing high-end range vocal style that just screams epic and grandeur.

The only downsides I found in Songs Of War and Vengeance were in the percussion and some of the vocals. The drum sound is a bit sterile and lacks a bit of punch, which somewhat weakens the otherwise monster production. There are also too many songs vocally performed by Gorgievski and it seems a little bit one sided at times; but he still is a damn fine vocalist. I just feel that Zoias and Ninni could have added a different dimension on some of the songs Gorgievski performed on.

Songs Of War and Vengeance is quite a solid album, and it is a positive sign that melodic metal is alive and well with some amazing compositions. Reports are that there is a follow-up release, Silence Obscure due out this year that will blow Songs Of War and Vengeance out of the water, so I'll be keeping an eye out for that!

If you like your metal epic, powerful and melodic in the Maiden and Helloween mold, Songs Of War and Vengeance is right up your alley. If you prefer death metal and blast-beats, you may want to explore other options, but with a curious ear and open mind, Songs Of War and Vengeance will have something you may enjoy.

Empires Of Eden's Songs Of War and Vengeance is available Activist Music through the band's MySpace - http://www.myspace.com/empiresofeden