Cain's Offering - Gather The Faithful (Frontiers/Riot)

There's no doubt that eyes have been fixed firmly in the direction of ex-Sonata Arctica songwriter/guitarist Jani Liimatainen since the inception of Cain's Offering, and the debut offering from the power metal quintet clearly has a heritage to uphold.
Release Date: 
28 Aug 2009 (All day)

Album opener, My Queen of Winter feels a bit like it starts halfway through. I stopped and started the song a couple of times before establishing that, yes, that is quite simply how it begins. In true Scando-metal fashion, there's a whole lot of unique lyrics, including my personal favourite: 'silence unbroken, words left unspoken' - never heard that before...

Vocalist Timo Kotipelto shows signs of weakness early on, and struggles with the really high notes in this number; you feel he's on the cusp of cracking at any point, but there's no such fear with the hugely theatrical More Than Friends, which is straight out of the glorious 80s. I could feel myself being drawn to listen to A-Ha as the tune progressed. Thank fuck that didn't last.

We get a bit of fire from the Cain's Offering boys during Oceans Of Regret which starts off sounding like a bizarre 1990s house tune. This is quickly replaced with searing guitar and hammering drums that are interchangeable with Europe's On Broken WIngs. Although definitely not likely to get a circle pit started, it'd make you sway enough to slop a bit of lager over your hand. Four minutes later, it all gets a bit Slayer, and there's the obligatory Scandanavian rock masturbatory solo, which, I must confess, I love. Chuck a bit of a-capella in there, add a Stratovarius-tastic key change and you've got yourself a catchy number.

There are, however, moments of extreme nausea on Gather the Faithful. The instrumental title track sounds like it would have been the theme from Karate Kid if Ralph Macchio had a Gibson Les Paul as opposed to a white dressing gown, and Into The Blue takes us on a journey of love and loss with lots of obstacles to overcome, tears to dry, hearts to hold and various other vomit-inducing bletherings.

But once you've dried the sick off your jumper, Dawn Of Solace comes out of nowhere, gets his mate to kneel behind you and pushes you down a hill. This is REAL power metal. Berserk double-kick, ridiculous guitar runs, emotive vocal harmonies; this is the stand-out song of the album by far.

There's an interesting hint of Revolting Cocks (a sentence I never thought I'd write) to Thorn In My Side but it soon reverts to type. It's a decent plodder but refrains from bringing the listener to climax. Morpheous In A Masquerade is lyrically ridiculous and overly long. Penultimate effort Stolen Waters has some impressive drum work, but despite hovering around the Iron Maiden vocal/guitar setup, fails to get you breaking the ol' neck.

Then something frankly extraordinary happens. Advertised album closer Elegantly Broken is not album closer Elegantly Broken. It is, in fact, 1988 pop classic, Tell It To My Heart by American plastic face Taylor Dane. Fact.

Gather The Faithful breaks no moulds whatsoever. It's "Sonata Arctica Lite", if you will. There's enough modernity for the DragonForce generation to get involved and Europe fans will find this a bit of a no-brainer. If you want something to stick on your MP3 whilst you toil across the Arctic tundra, covered in animal pelt, sword in hand and preparing to rejoin your lost love, this is the album. If you want something more cerebral, it might be best to move along.

Cain's Offering's Gather the Faithful will be released on 28 August on Frontiers/Riot.