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Challenger – Turned To Dust

Turned To Dust
by Rachel Montgomery at 20 June 2020, 1:43 PM

CHALLENGER formed in 2016 when vocalist and guitarists Jakob Rejec and Urban Železnik started riffing together. After touring bars for a few years, they’ve released their new EP, “Turned To Dust”. Clearly influenced by New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWBHM), the band also brings modern influences and a clear production style that captivates listeners. After hearing the album, I want more. Currently, they’re putting the finishing touches on a full release per their Facebook page, so I can get my wish soon!

The four-track EP has a few distinct songs that are varied but keep the flavor of the band intact. “Left Alive” begins with a turbo-charged riff with some nice flourishes thrown in. The melody change in the intro keeps the song moving nicely. The singer is gold: clear, operatic, and with a unique character. The vibrato is barely noticeable, but it adds a good dimension to the song. The title song “Turned To Dust” begins with a lovely climbing chord that’s punctuated by a soaring melodic guitar. Again, the vocal work is good, but sometimes the vibrato can be a little distracting. The powerful vocal entrance in “A Place Of Tranquility” is striking. The falsetto in this song and the last one can be a little jarring and dissonant, but it’s for effect. The melody changes in this song, specifically the guitar solo keep it interesting. Finally, “Challenger” begins with a synthetic-sounding opening. The high-pitched crying of the opening guitar riffs make it stand out. Then, rolling drums and a rhythmic melody give way to smooth singing. Of the songs, this one is the most varied musically. It left me wanting to hear more from this band.

Overall, it’s produced clearly, the musicianship is wonderful, and the vocals are great. The sound is standard power metal, but the ingredients make it what it is. In particular, the vocals are smooth and operatic, but have their own distinct character. If you’re a fan of the general sound of SYSTEM OF A DOWN, I would especially recommend this band. They’re not as jarring with vocal style and melody changes, but the overall tone of their sound reminded me of them. From this EP, I’m really looking forward to their first full-length album. The songs so far are classic, but don’t go out of their way to recapture a retro (blurry, muddied, and best left in the past) sound. It’s a really promising start to what will hopefully be a long musical career.

Songwriting: 10
Production: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10

5 Star Rating

1. Left Alive
2. Turned To Dust
3. A Place Of Tranquility
4. Challenger
Jakob Rejec - Vocals, guitars
Urban Železnik - Guitars
Toni Pleško - Drums
Blaž Tanšek - Bass
Record Label: Independent


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