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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Atkins / May Project

Valley of Shadows

Review by Gary Hill

When this outfit released their last set, I was under-whelmed by it. Well, this one doesn’t have the same effect on me. I love this disc. The previous one seemed to be too interested in sounding like Judas Priest and too generic in doing that. Mind you, Alan Atkins was the original singer in Judas Priest, so to a degree that was understandable. The thing is, though, the music on that set was like that, too – which seemed contrived to me. This time around, though, the music is original and compelling. There is a lot of variety and it never feels anything but exciting and creative. All in all, this is a great metal disc. 

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Welcome to the Nightmare

Vocals open this and then the music pounds out with some screaming hot metal sound. As this builds out it feels like killer modern metal with European power metal elements. It’s a very strong cut and a great way to open this set in style. I really love the instrumental break and guitar solo that comes in later.

No Ordinary Man
More of a riff and groove oriented metal tune, this is a bit like Led Zeppelin turned more pure heavy metal. It’s another killer tune and just two songs in, this album is much better than the duo’s previous release. A big part of that is because this doesn’t feel derivative at all.
Bitter Waters

Acoustic guitar starts this and the vocals come in over the top of this sound. Then it powers out to a slow moving, and rather blues inspired hard rocking metal vibe. It drops back down the mellower territory for the next vocals. The cut alternates between mellower movements and harder rocking ones and is a killer number. The guitar solo section again really shines.

Enslaved to Love

The sounds that open this are quite mean and metallic. The cut is quite heavy, quite dark and yet very modern in texture.

Stronger Is the Grace

This frantic powerhouse is another metal face to this project. It’s another winner, too. This album doesn’t show any sign of letting up in intensity or repeating itself by this point. This is a killer.

Harder They Fall

There’s a killer riff and metal groove driving this monster. It’s another that stands tall.

Not Ready to Die Today

More in the vein of NWOBHM meets modern metal, this is another full-on stomper.

Messiah

There’s almost a progressive rock vibe to this as the symphonic elements are created in the metal sounds. This instrumental is quite tasteful.

Valley of Shadows

This is a dramatic and powerful metal ballad. As cool as this tune is, though, it’s a bit overlong. That means that, if there’s a weak track here, this is it.

The Shallowing (Return)

Mellow and quite progressive rock like, this is incredibly cool.

 
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