Solid State Records will always have a place in my heart. They have, to date, fueled the God fearing metal heads of the world with some of the best artists that we on the fringe of music could ask for. Their roster often challenges the extremes of all metal types, but they sign insightfully and tastefully, with little miss. Earlier in the year, a pair of fresh faced groups joined their ranks: As They Sleep and To Speak of Wolves. The former has now released their sophomore album, and Solid State debut Dynasty, but it could not be farther from To Speak of Wolves' debut - in style, or execution - if it tried. Here we see rebirth disguised as innovation, and a fresh, new sound with classic roots. Dynasty cuts straight to the heart of heavy metal, but without resembling every other copycat death metal band.
The only scary part is that the album opener "Oracle of the Dead" launches with a gruesome blast beat. Oh no. Lightning fast double kick, profuse chugging, deathly metal growls. Not a bright future ahead. But just as I prepare myself to endure a half-hour breakdown/blast beat session, something else happens. Just that - something else! The tempo changes, a higher scream joins the guttural low; melodious, twin guitar riffs that clearly require some semblance of skill beyond palm muting strike from all angles! This is incredible. The riffs aren't just harmonious, but colourful and full of life, even bright on occasion. Besides just the standard calling forth darkness and delivering souls to who knows where, the members of this death metal band are clearly enjoying themselves.
The scope of the music is always changing as well. Just as a mental criticism on "this beat being overdone" or the band "trying way to hard on this riff" enters your head, the scene changes. Tony Lukitsh on drums continuously shifts the spine of the music, always maintaining the entertainment and tastefulness of the song. The creativity of a band in this genre is inspiring to say the least. By "The Third Reich," I was banging my head, and found myself to be deeply in love with this band. Vocalist Aaron Bridgewater is solid, actually screaming in correct pitch to the music. This successfully adds a deep layer to the music that still eludes most screamers.
It is difficult to put into words the level of professionalism and tact that ATS employs on only a second album. "The Darkest Age" makes clear the band's natural specialty: riffs. Nick Morris and Barry Gomez are synchronized on an unearthly level, matching always the speed and intensity of Lukitsh and Derek Kosiba on drums and bass. The interlude "Ritual" comes into play so fluidly, giving the string men freedom to gently shred your troubles away. "The Offering" introduces the second half of Dynasty beautifully. Bridgewater's vocals culminate with twin guitars like poetry. Subtle hints of bright melodies insist on more than the melting of faces, but also allow the half absurd thought that this devilish music can actually mean something. "Attila" and "Poseidon" tread forward gracefully, albeit with the power of a landslide. But they give hope to the tired metal fans who gave up on the genre because of the redundancy of every new "-core" band on the scene.
"God of War" can remind the listeners that the energy has only briefly died down on the album at all. Every subsequent track hammers on, but nothing gets stale. ATS has worked extremely hard to keep the album interesting, and unlike so many before them, they have triumphed in that respect. Dynasty winds down with "The Unseen," which bears a significant air of finality, but also of a rising success. The album theme is all about the rising and falling of empires throughout history, but for now, ATS is only rising. It's so good to hear a band of this speed, volume and caliber within the Christian market. With such a concrete album nailed down, As They Sleep is very definitely going to make a name for themselves.
- Review date: 11/27/10, written by Wayne Reimer of Jesusfreakhideout.com