The Lesser Key of Solomon

"These days, it is one thing just to be able to release an album given the current state of the music business. However, to release said band’s best material while trying to pin down a job, scrap together some funds, have a family, maintain a “normal life” and deal with record companies with a 2014 “business model” is a whole other thing all together.

Most bands know that the gold at the end of this rainbow, through all the hard work and creativity, is merely deeming albums a “labor of love” and hope and pray they get enough gigs to make it “worth it” even with vast monetary loss. So is the life of A Sound of Thunder – a snapshot of a hard working band that is both the current and future of this business. Blessed with immense talent upswing that garners a “legion of thunder” to quickly reach crowdsourcing campaign goals, it is actually hard to take any record company offers seriously. Whether or not the band made a pact with the seven princes of hell, “The Lesser Key of Solomon” is A Sound Of Thunder's best work to date and a sleeper album of the year that should not go unnoticed.

In stark contrast to “Time’s Arrow” (which listening back now almost sounds Cro-Magnon by comparison), “The Lesser Key of Solomon,” pushes the band in a much more progressive and mature direction over a bed of gleefully evil lyrical content. The style is a unique combination of progressive rock, 90’s W.A.S.P. and an overly obvious dose of eerie King Diamond. Oddly enough, when the Kickstarter edition of opening track “Udoroth” was issued to backers, it was a real stripped down pure metal song in the “Queen of Hell” vein and seemed way more basic metal than what the band has been releasing in recent years. However, when the completed album version hit my stereo it was as if it had been transformed. Choirs, sound clips, and added vocal parts have expanded it into way more than the simple barbaric nature of the pre-release.

With longer songs and higher levels of progression all around, “The Lesser Key of Solomon” presents the band's most complex material to date – with a foursome of tracks in “The Boy Who Could Fly,” “Elijah,” “Blood From the Mummy’s Tomb,” and “House of Bones” that stand up to any album released this year and back. “Elijah” is near 10 minutes with so many flowing parts it could really be divided into three separate and distinct tracks, but it is just so damn perfect linked together.

Guitarist Josh Schwartz has perfected his craft over the years and each album presents an ever growing talent. On “Lesser” there is more exploration with bluesy styles alongside the usual butchering riffs and soaring, engaging solos that have propelled him into one of the best out there. Sadly though, he is still under the radar of most of the world. Check out the guitar emoting on “Black Secrets” and “House of Bones.” Backed up by the monster rhythm section of drummer Chris Haren and bassist Jesse Keen, the musicianship is absurdly fantastic.

Vocalist Nina Osegueda has blossomed into one of the leading front women in the business today (and if you haven’t heard….shame on you). You won’t hear an operatic droning or any glitzy bubble gum pop metal infused vocals that are all the rage in Scandinavia these days. What you get is ass kicking, bold, face-punching power. On “Lesser,” Osegueda really expands her “softer side” (shown last on “Time’s Arrow” favorite “I’ll Walk With You”). Check out the performances on “One Empty Grave” and “Lesser” favorite “The Boy Who Can Fly,” with just the perfect amount of emotion to draw listeners into the same feeling. On top of all that, Nina has clearly re-stumbled upon the King Diamond back catalog, for she adds a huge dose of creepy “sing song-telling” in tracks like “Elijah” (check out 7:34-7:50 for example).

Armed with the knowledge that the next album is already nearly completed… I can’t even imagine where this talented U.S. act will take its musical direction. “The Lessor Key of Solomon” already represents the best material the band has released to date, which is exactly how I felt with “Time’s Arrow.” The constant drive to be better coupled with perfect execution makes "The Lesser Key Of Solomon" easily rank among the elite albums released in 2014. Skipping over this album would be a real disservice to truly inspiring and independent music." - Metal Underground

There are no review yet. Be the first!

Product Review

You must login or register to post reviews.
Laser Pic

customers also bought

SEE ALL
  • "With 'Home', for the first time since their critically acclaimed 'Posthumous Silence' of 2006, Sylvan have taken the chance to create another full-on concept album. Even though the Hamburg natives attach great importance to creating contextually comprehensive pieces of art with any of their albums, this time around Sylvan have upped their ambition another notch and taken on the mammoth task of building an overall concept around the never ending quest of the human condition for 'home' - that very special place that can provide a feeling of complete safety."This is the deluxe mediabook edition.  Same track listing as the jewel box but in much nicer packaging.
    $17.00
  • "Periphery have been an omnipresent force in the prog metalcore realm since their first album released in 2010 – band founder Misha Mansoor has served as producer on several of the genre’s albums, and the other members are all famous in their own right, whether it’s simply for their craft (Matt Halpern), their involvement in other projects (Spencer Sotelo, Mark Holcomb, Nolly Getgood), or just simply being the nephew of someone exceedingly famous (Jake Bowen). This makes whatever they decide to do extremely important, and the band’s decision to release a concept double album has created hype of hugelargic proportions. In my humble opinion, the band has delivered on all fronts, but not without some disappointments in the “could’ve been” area.Since their inception, Periphery have changed from a chugga-chug ambidjent project posting demos on the internet in the late 2000s to a full-fledged prog metal band with heavy elements of metalcore, post-hardcore, and pop music in general. If you weren’t onboard for “Periphery II”, “Juggernaut” likely won’t change your mind (unless your issues were relatively small), as it’s more of the same poppy atmosphere and less of the techy downtuned riffs, though god knows THOSE are still around. But there’s also a lot of style experimentation – jazz fusion, death metal, and various forms of electronica are all utilized on a semi-normal basis, and range from being seamlessly integrated into the music to being tacked on to the ends of songs like gluing a top-rate dildo onto an already particularly throbby penis. If this all sounds a bit schizophrenic, rest assured that the songcraft is, for the most part, tighter than it’s ever been. Singles from Alpha like “22 Faces” and “Alpha” itself show off Periphery’s pop prowess with choruses and hooks that refuse to leave your head, and complex riffs that are somehow just as ‘wormy as the vocals. And the songs on Omega are longer, more complex, and still manage to be as infectious as the most annoying of STDs – even the twelve minute sprawling title track that has more in common with the bombastic riffs of Periphery I has a shapely middle section that rivals even the hottest of…ugh, fuck it, done with the metaphors. It’s just insane. I cried when I heard it.And now onto what I don’t care for; first off, the decision to split the album into two parts was definitely well-informed from a marketing standpoint. Most people don’t go around listening to 80 minute records all day, myself included, and the supposedly delicate structure of a concept album also means that listening to Juggernaut by skipping to different songs would devalue the experience. So the band broke it into two records to make it seem more manageable to listen to in daily life. Another stated reason was so that newcomers to the band would be able to buy Alpha at a discounted price, decide if they liked it, and then purchase Omega if they were so inclined (music previewing doesn’t work like that anymore, but hey you can’t fault the band for trying to turn that into tangible record sales). The problem I have is that Omega isn’t really paced to be its own album, which makes releasing it on its own instead as simply as the second disc in a package a little pointless. It’s not like the excellent “The Afterman” double albums from Coheed and Cambria, which were each albums that worked in their own right. I realize that this is really just semantics, but I think calling Juggernaut both the third and fourth album from Periphery, while technically correct, is just disingenuous, and judging them fairly on their own as separate albums is impossible (which is why all reviews being published are including them together).Periphery has always had a unique way of pacing their albums, regularly including playful, sometimes relatively lengthy interludes between tracks. Juggernaut is no different, and these interludes are now occasionally used to seed songs that will appear later on the album, or provide callbacks to tracks already present. The transitions aren’t always elegant however, and can range from grin-inducing to head-scratching to just plain grating. Thankfully, the band isn’t going for the illusion that each song flows seamlessly into the next, at least no more than they were going for it on any of their previous albums, and it’s easy to get used to everything given multiple listens.Overall, Juggernaut is a dense album that’s going to take a myriad of listens to fully sink in, just like most of the band’s prior releases (I don’t think anyone is gonna argue that “Clear” has any depth that you would find after about the fifth listen or so, but hey hey that’s ok kay). But it’s also accessible on the surface with deceptively simple rhythms and poppy choruses, which draw you in to appreciate the deeper cuts. I’d recommend it to anyone who likes unique and thoughtful music in the post-hardcore, metalcore, and progressive metal genres, but I’d also recommend it to anyone ever, because this is my absolute favorite band and I think they’ve created a masterpiece. So take from that what you will, and then get the fuck out of here. The play button is calling my name." - iprobablyhateyourband.com
    $11.00
  • Bjorn Riis isn't exactly a household name but if you are a fan of the Norwegian band Airbag he's more familiar than you realize.  Riis is the band's lead guitarist.  For his debut solo album he's enlisted members of Airbag in all aspects of the production.  Riis himself says that the sound doesn't stray too far from Airbag but its a more personal affair.  This is pretty accurate.  Riis is an avowed disciple of David Gilmour.  In fact he set up a website dedicated to Gilmour and his iconic (and easily recognizable) guitar sound.Many aspects of Airbag's three albums owe a heavy debt to Pink Floyd and Riis' solo album fits neatly into the same box.  The album consists of six tracks - three of which run 10+ minutes.  The easiest and most concise way to describe "Lullabies" is that it sounds like a head on collision between Wish You Were Here and The Division Bell.  Nothing wrong with that!  BUY OR DIE! 
    $16.00
  • Second album from this Dutch "sympho" band. Leap Day has roots in bands like Flamborough Head and Trion and wear their influences on their sleeve. Camel, Kayak, Steve Hackett, and Marillion immediately come to mind. They take a lush symphonic approach with a strong emphasis on melody over complexity. Keys have a 70s feel. This album pretty much characterizes the Dutch sound. If you can't wait for the new Knight Area album you might want to check this one out in the meantime.
    $14.00
  • "If Astral Doors had an intention to re-revolutionize the metal and rock industry – flipping it on its ear and leaving mouths agape - well, it might be time for you to awaken from the fantasy. Astral Doors has and always will play badass rock ‘n’ metal that is so steeped in the historical realms of Rainbow and Ronnie James Dio that the material is stained a deep reddish brown. With that said, if you set those expectations to moniker of reality, “Notes from the Shadows” really is one of the most enjoyable metal albums you'll hear all year.Although I do think vocalist Nils Patrik Johansson (Civil War) plays tribute to the great Ronnie James Dio, he is quite distinctive and is by no means the “replica” which many people have stamped him as. A much closer listen to his work (check Civil War, Wuthering Heights, and Lion’s Share for reference), reveals a much deeper variety in style than the stigma he has received from critics who lazily overgeneralize. I’m sure Johansson is likely flattered by the comparison (who wouldn’t be), but on top of drawing influences from a myriad of vocalist admired over the years, he has a style that is easily identifiable.With that said, “Notes from the Shadows” presents a basic rock ‘n’ metal approach – a heavier Rainbow, if you will, so if this is not your bag…move on. For those that enjoy well written songs with bad ass Hammond style keyboards (from Joakim Rodberg) and absurdly infectious hooks (from Joachim Nordlund) all shadowed by Johansson’s bold vox, then this release will be met with insane enjoyment. “Last Temptation of Christ” and “Confessions” have all those typical Astral Doors hallmarks, including Johansson’s trademark “intro shouting” of the song title just shortly after the start. The best offerings include “Disciples of the Dragon Lord” (perhaps the heaviest on the album), “Walker the Stalker” and “Desert Nights” – all with more hooks than a Bassmaster tournament.My personal favorite is “Shadowchaser,” which starts with a melody that is a near replica of “Man on the Silver Mountain” (which certainly won’t help with that Dio/Rainbow stigma). It quickly turns into one of the most accessible tracks on the album. “Die Alone” – which is a drum clinic of badassery from Johan Linstedt (and not for awe inspiring fills, just ability to inspire headbanging) – is another in a string of tracks that would make the Astral Doors best-of release.Don't expect “Notes from the Shadows” to teach you a new way to rock. If that happens, you probably are not listening to Astral Doors. Consider this a lesson in how to properly rock through echos of the greats like Rainbow, Sabbath and, of course, Dio. If you enjoy the extension of a great legacy carried on through newer acts, you will find much to enjoy on this album. "Notes from the Shadows" is just a continuation of the great song writing and unique ability to force the body rock out which you should come to expect from Astral Doors." - Metal Underground
    $15.00
  • Third album from this fine Italian band.  Empyrios is led by DGM guitarist Simone Mularoni. In the past the band would seamlessly blend prog and industrial metal.  This time the music veers much more towards the heavier end of the spectrum.  There are some remnants of prog left but really they are going more for a sound akin to Nevermore and Mnemic.  Vocalist Silvio Mancini jumps back and forth between clean and harsh vocals enough to keep things interesting.  Crushing stuff.
    $14.00
  • "This is actually a 1995 CD that was way ahead of it's time! The New York club scene was rocked by these gothic, futuristic, intricate musicians. The album contains epic melodic tracks linked by sound-effect intros and outros that include movie dialogues, readings and plain wierdness. The music is dark progressive metal with gothic influences and complex arrangements. Clean vocals and Yes-like vocal harmonies play off against heavy crunchy guitar (a woman named Vora Vor who is simply marvelous on this CD) and soaring keyboard symphonics. Very memorable melodies and intriguing lyrics makes this one of my favorite CD's in the last couple of years! There is no one else out there quite like Braindance's style but maybe Tiamat or Moonspell comes to mind."
    $12.00
  • I guess miracles do happen. Incredible to think that its been 18 years since Epilog was released. The long promised third album is finally here and it does not disappoint. The boys and girl are back in town and they sound exactly the way they did on Hybris and Epilog. Essentially Anglagard infuse their music with the best elements of 70s prog from Sweden, Germany, and England and do it at the same high standard as the original bands that influenced them. Viljans Oga consists of 4 epic tracks of Mellotron laded symphonic rock bliss.After the band's triumphant return to the stage at Nearfest Apocalypse, the band generously divided up their remaining stock of the new album among the various vendors. For the moment we have a limited stock that we expect to sell out very quickly. More will be on the way shortly. For the moment - if you are reading this grab it because it won't be here the next time you look.BUY OR DIE!
    $22.00
  • 2CD special edition arrives with a bonus CD featuring live tracks taken from the "It Happened One Night" DVD - a live gig from Carlisle, England 2/12/10."‘Map of the Past‘, the fifth studio album from Cumbrian prog rockers It Bites, will most likely inhabit a strange, disturbing place in your heart. It’s a release that is obscurely beautiful and tender, but also one that can occasionally sound incongruous and lost in time. Very often, when it comes to progressive music, people will often justify anything odd by defending it with its genre. In the case of It Bites, there is a temptation to lean on a sound from their 80s heyday, which occasionally makes ‘Map of the Past’ seem staid and not just a little cheesy.In places this album is a wonderful, soaring retrospect vision of a forgotten generation, built around the ‘discovery of an old family photograph’. Although not a concept album per se, ‘Map of the Past’ explores the idea of lives captured within photographs, and reflects these contemplative visions with equally thoughtful music; album opener, ‘Man In the Photograph’ opens with the fuzz of radio static and soon leads into sound of organs and John Mitchell’s recollections borne from this one picture. The song blends into the more progressive sounding fare of ‘Wallflower‘ and its indulgent synth solo. The title track is more engaging, with soaring chorus vocals and disorientating time signatures, showcasing the tight musicianship and richly mature songwriting ability that has grown from their 30 years of existence.The strength of this album falters with ‘Flag’ and its irrepressibly outdated smattering of 80s memorabilia and Sting powered vocal lines, although the lyrics are undoubtedly more engaging than any Police offshoot. The album does have a tendency to wander into these unpalatable territories, but more than often than not redeems itself; as the grandiose, irresistible flounce of ‘Send No Flowers‘ resurrects its orchestral bombast and moves into ‘Meadow and the Stream’s artistically detailed backdrop, it’s clear that this album is more rollercoaster than record. The album finishes, as it started, relying on simply constructed songs and that radio static to bookmark the end; ‘The Last Escape’ is honestly beautiful, and seems even more so in contrast to the tumult of the remainder of the record.‘Map of the Past’ shifts between temporal paradigms rather than changing between tracks; it’s a scintillating album that is honest to itself, and stays true to It Bites’ form, even if it does rely on sounds from their back backcatalogue occasionally. Despite this, the depth of the album is phenomenal and is genuinely rich in its storyline, with music that peaks and troughs fittingly. Well worth a listen if you find yourself pointed at the progosphere." - Bring The Noise
    $17.00
  • Full length debut release comes with a bonus DVD filmed at the Hammer of Doom Festival 2013."At last and here now, we have the very much awaited full debut album from Blues Pills, called simply ‘Blues Pills‘. So where do I start with this one? Well to be very honest, when this new album landed on my door mat I thought, “Ok, an album full of songs we’d already heard on the two previous E.P.’s”. To a degree that is what we have, but with a very pleasant twist I’d not expected!! The opener is ‘High Class Woman‘ and my god it is too! With a beat like a Red Indian war dance and mixed with heavy bass rhythms from Zack Anderson, while hot on his heals is Dorian Sorriaux stroking his six stringed lover with the confidence of a veteran guitarist. We then get to listen once more to Elin Larsson who gives a blinding performance of this latest offering from the band. After a new song for me and the second track on the album,  ‘Ain’t No Change‘ which has a mix of blues rock with some southern states gospel sounds thrown in for good measure. It’s followed by ‘Jupiter‘ sounding like it came straight off the film score of a ‘Shaft’ movie!Tracks four and five are two old favorites re-worked and presented in a way I hadn’t been expecting! This time they’ve slowed down the pace a little of both ‘Black Smoke‘ (at the beginning), and the now dreamy version of ‘River‘ which was I personally think was an inspirational idea! By doing so we can now get to hear the stunning and very mature sound of Elin’s beautiful voice. The songs now begin to take me back to the old Fleetwood Mac feel these very young but accomplished performers have resurrected, and with such a confidence about them. To do this in an age where it would seem most people just want to hear a boom boom boom beat followed by someone pretending to sing but just talking, Rapp I think it’s called, crap I call it! For these guys (and gal) to buck the trend and not be afraid to be the shepherds and not sheep is something I really admire about them. Commitment in what they believe and feel is the biggest part of being a sustainable group that are in it for the long haul and not just a fast buck! These are very early days yet in the life of Blues Pills even though they have been playing as a true full time band since December 2011. It will be a hard journey, there will be massive highs and depressing lows. But if they can keep it all together I’m convinced they’ll still be around in the years ahead." - Planet Mosh
    $6.00
  • "Iced Earth are going through a bit of a renaissance period at the moment. While they do have many hardcore fans who would defend their back catalogue to the end, honestly the heavy metal titans haven’t made a truly exciting album in about twenty years; that is, they hadn’t, until the release of 2011’s Dystopia. After two decades of putting out stale and generally uninteresting meat and potatoes heavy metal, finally they had an album that managed to match up to their first few records, one with the power and energy to justify their continued status as metal heroes. Plagues of Babylon is its follow-up, and thankfully they have managed to take this momentum forward and release another great album.Opening with the title track’s marching drum beat (strangely similar to Dystopia in that regard) and ominous harmonized leads, as soon as the heavy, chugging main riff kicks in it’s clear that this album is going to be a worthy successor. Noticeably, the production is very good, giving the guitars a sharp razor edge that albums like the totally flat The Glorious Burden lacked. Mainman Jon Schaffer churns out some of the best riffs in his career on this album, especially on the raging and thrashy Democide. Some new blood is brought in with an all new rhythm section, bassist Luke Appleton helping give the album its low-end crunch while drummer Raphael Saini (who was sadly since left) punctuates the songs with intricate tom patterns and ride cymbal work while maintaining a constant driving power. Stu Block meanwhile, who debuted as vocalist on Dystopia, continues to make sure that fan favourite Matt Barlow is not missed too much, his gruff voice helping give the songs a darker edge while his highs are utilised when appropriate, never being over-used.This is hardly perfect though. Plagues is a bit front-loaded, the second half never quite managing to match up to the first, especially considering it contains two somewhat unnecessary covers. The first is Spirit of the Times by Sons of Liberty, a Jon Schaffer side project, and you can’t help but question the logic in covering your own material, especially as aside from the darker and heavier overtones it’s not massively different from the original. The second, Highwayman by Jimmy Webb, is hardly electrifying either.That said, many of the problems that plagued previous Iced Earth efforts no longer show up. The obligatory cheesy metal ballad only appears once in If I Could See You, which is one of the better ones they’ve done, and only a couple of songs have a clean guitar intro, unlike on The Dark Saga where they appear on nearly every song. Iced Earth are a band who are at their best when they’re firing on all cylinders, and that is largely what they stick to here. With it’s almost death metal cover art, Plagues is for the most part a balls-out thrill ride, and honestly might be Iced Earth’s most complete work to date." - Sound And Motion Magazine
    $12.00
  • "As we’ve been chronicling all year long, 2013 has been a great year for Norwegian progressive metal with some excellent progressive power metal from Illusion Suite, Tellus Requiem and Pellek, the new album by the long-running prog metal band Divided Multitude, the fantastic new album by Leprous and the exciting debut by Withem (you can read our review here).  Now, into that great mix the young band Vicinity has just released their debut full -length album, Awakening and it easily stands with the best of what their countrymen have produced this year. The band works in a decidedly melodic and dramatic fashion anchored around the wonderful voice of Alexander Lykke, the multi-faceted guitars of Kim-Marius Olsen and the powerful drumming of Frode Lillevold.  Interestingly there are no keyboards on the album (except for a few background sounds for effects) which wasn’t readily apparent to me at first because the songs are so well written and the vocal melodies are so strong. Olsen multi-tracks soft and harder textures to really give the album a rich sound.  The album has a great full sound and was mastered by the prolific Jens Bogren.Awakening is an hour long album but only has six songs.  Three are in the 11-14 minute range and the other three are between 5-6 minutes. The longer songs are not really more complex, but just feel necessary to the structure of each song which is really a testament to the band’s composition style -- the band will do a long song if warranted but works well in both long and short song formats.  The album begins with Mass Delusion which starts as a high-energy rocker but has a great instrumental mid-section that propels the song to its energetic conclusion. Opportunities Lost is the longest song on the album at over 14 minutes and is a deceptively simple song that consistently builds tension throughout the piece, alternates between short instrumental interludes, both soft and hard, and has a great vocal melody that ends in a wonderfully dramatic finale. Again, it’s fairly simple in structure but is so well written that I couldn’t believe it was as long as it was.  I was reminded of what great neo-progressive bands like IQ often do so well -- take a great idea and vary and expand on it to great emotional conclusions.  Across The River is a shorter, five minute song and is mostly a ballad that builds in intensity throughout to a powerful finale.   Walk All The Way is an 11-minute song that’s easily my favorite on the album as its got some of the most beautiful vocals on Awakening, has the heaviest section on the album right in the middle (complete with some harsher vocals for contrast and intensity) before building to a wonderfully majestic finale.  Olsen also really shines here as well with some great emotional soloing.  The Time For Change is next and it’s yet another amazing power ballad that shows, yet again how well this band can create drama and excitement.  The album ends with the 11 minute album title song that has a fairly heavy opening section but ends with a stunningly beautiful epic finish.  Honestly there’s not a weak moment on this album and if dramatic and emotionally affective progressive metal is your cup of tea, this album will hit you hard.Awakening is a really, really solid album that has so much going for it. It’s got a great, joyously youthful spirit and is decidedly focused on the emotional content instead of trying to wow the listener with technicality.   Vicinity is primarily a band of great melodic songwriters and they have the perfect vocalist in Lykke to carry out their vision of exciting  progressive music and if they continue on this path could really make some waves in this great genre." - Prog Metal Zone
    $15.00
  • Chicago prog-metal stalwarts Ion Vein are back but with a new game plan.  The music is now very much in the power metal vein and even has a groove to it.  New vocalist Scott Featherstone is a definite step in the right direction."ION VEIN's self-titled new album shows the band re-tooled, re-focused and re-energized in a way that captures the essence of their song-oriented and technically-skilled metal intensity. Also, a top notch production drives these pounding, meaty canvases to cut into the very core of your soul, while breathing new life into today's world of music. For fans of Metallica, Dio, Iced Earth and more!""The long awaited follow up to 2003's "Reigning Memories" was once again produced, recorded, and mixed by Neil Kernon (Judas Priest, Nevermore, Redemption) and is the first full length album with vocalist, Scott Featherstone, whom the band first debuted on the IV v1.0 and IV v2.0 three song digital EPs released in September 2011 and December 2012 respectively. Additionally, the six songs from those EPs have been re-mixed/re-mastered for inclusion on the full album."
    $10.00
  • Limited first edition digipak of live recordings culled from Firewind's 2012 European tour as well as their 10th anniversary gigs in Greece from December 2012.
    $7.00