Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sunburst (by The Man of Much Metal)

Artist: Sunburst
Album Title: Fragments Of Creation
Label: Inner Wound Recordings
Date Of Release: 26 February 2016
If you’re familiar with the names of Black Fate or Paradox, then the clientele behind Sunburst will not be a revelation to you. Why? Because ‘Fragments Of Creation’ is the debut album by the duo behind those aforementioned bands, namely guitarist Gus Drax and vocalist Vasilis Georgiou. I must admit that, thanks to the curse of the ‘too much music, too little time’ syndrome, both Black Fate and Paradox have thus far eluded me. However, if the standard on this record is a barometer of the quality across the board for this duo, I think I’d better make time.
If you’ve ever laid awake at night and wondered how a slightly lighter Nevermore would sound blended with Kamelot, then prepare to lose sleep no longer. Add in a healthy dose of European power metal melody as well as plenty of dextrous, blazing guitar solos, licks and embellishments and the Sunburst recipe is pretty much complete. And I have to admit that it’s an intoxicating recipe. Whether or not this unmitigated blast of heavy metal ear candy can hold the attention of listeners over the longer term remains to be seen, but for now, all I can say is that I’m impressed and entertained.
Sunburst may have been created by the Greek duo but drummer Kostas Milonas and bassist Nick Grey play their parts ably in helping to shape the way this band sounds, creating a solid foundation upon which all else sits. A strong, and clear production assists the Sunburst cause as well, meaning that all the fundamentals are present and correct.
The album wastes absolutely no time in getting going either. ‘Out Of The World’ erupts from the speakers with the kind of down-tuned thrash-inspired swirling, chugging riff that Nevermore would be proud of. It’s slick, deft and gets the blood pumping in a proper statement of intent. If anything, the hook-laden and anthemic chorus is even better, begging to be sung along with from the first spin. Naturally, from Drax, a guitarist tutored by Ioannis Anastassakis, there’s room for a great solo before the track draws to a close.
On top of all this, Georgiou’s vocals can’t fail to catch the ear and I actually found myself double-checking the press release to ensure that it wasn’t ex-Kamelot vocalist Roy Khan behind the mic. Georgiou is an extremely competent singer in his own right but there’s no denying the similarities; the tones and phrasings frequently call to mind the Norwegian which, in my opinion isn’t a bad thing as I miss Khan at the head of Kamelot.
To be honest, ‘Fragments Of Creation’ isn’t the most varied of records and so the tone set on the opening composition is by and large continued throughout the remaining nine songs. As such, big, muscular riffs, barnstorming choruses and plenty of lead six-string action are the order of the day for nigh-on an hour. And you know what? I dig it. But then, what’s not to like? This is the kind of music that plants a great big smile of your face and makes you feel good. The vitality, the power and the sense of unabashed fun shines through each song, making it a real joy to listen to.
And the fact that the album is so consistent from start to finish simply underlines the quality of the song writing on offer from Georgiou and Drax. The guys know what they are doing and they do it very well.
‘Dementia’ is ushered in on a modern-sounding synth-derived effect before giving way to a catchy and expressive lead guitar melody and an even more memorable chorus. ‘Symbol Of Life’ is a killer track that’s dominated by a lightning fast lead guitar lick atop a deep down-tuned riff and topped off by arguably the best chorus on the record.
The pace is momentarily slowed via the ballad ‘Lullaby’ which is pure Kamelot at their very best before ‘End Of The Game’ reintroduces a little more thrash-inspired edginess. Then there’s the vaguely AOR-tinged leanings of Forevermore’ and the instrumental ‘Beyond The Darkest Sun’, which allows Georgiou to take a break and allows Drax’s guitar to sing with fantastic results.
The only true curveball is then delivered by ‘Remedy Of My Heart’ which closes the album in grandiose fashion. At over 12 minutes, it is by far the longest song and it’s also the most ambitious, mixing the usual melodic metal output with lashings of dramatic, cinematic pomposity.
As I said before, I worry about the longevity of the album. But that small concern aside, there’s very little else to quibble about. ‘Fragments Of Creation’ is a whole lot of fun but more than that, it is fun wrapped up in ten melodic heavy metal anthems. Super.
The Score Of Much Metal: 8.0
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