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Holy Tide - Aquila

Holy Tide
Aquila
by Max Elias at 04 August 2019, 1:47 PM

The first album from melodic death metallers AQUILA starts off with a moody piano and strings intro that crescendos from morose to blood-boiling. There is not too much going on, but the lyrical strings and soft marching drum sets the expectations for the rest of the album high. The first real song, ‘Exodus’, opens with a middle-eastern acoustic riff that remains underneath the distorted guitar and vocals. The song also features the use of orchestral elements on occasion (in the choruses, mostly). Apart from the intro riff, which is what I would call the ‘hook’, the riffing is pretty garden-variety melodic death metal, tending towards the Arch Enemy way of doing things. The vocals are also very clean, a rarity in melodic death metal, unless it has progressive elements. ‘Exodus’ does not, however.

The album seems to have a Biblical theme, as the next song is called ‘Chains of Enoch’, and the first riff is a staccato breakdown-type figure, not unlike a lot of middle-eastern metal bands seem to use. The orchestral elements are still present, adding color and substance to the song structure. The guitar riffs are again not that gripping or unique, but suitable for the style, which puts emphasis on the vocals. The solo towards the end is lyrical and tinged with Arabic melodicism. ‘Godincidence’ is vocally reminiscent of Bruce Dickinson, with more aggressive drum work than previously. It also has a more shred-heavy lead section, that still fits well in the song.

Harking back to the intro of the album, ‘Curse and Ecstasy’ features a breathtaking clean-guitar-and-strings-dominated intro that flows into the first verse. Other songs showed how important orchestral elements are to this band, but ‘Curse and Ecstasy’ takes that dynamic to a new height. Even with the pounding drums and chunky rhythm guitar, the song seems calmer than the rest of the album. The song ends on a tranquil fade out with a horn section—not typical even for melodic death metal. ‘Eagle Eye’ then picks up the strings again before attacking with a palm-muted chugging groove that is the most straightforward, guitar-centric riff of all of HOLY TIDE. There is also blast beat drumming happening at some points.

This is a very long album, and although individually the songs are good, they blur together about halfway through the album. There are still standout moments; such as a cool strings section on ‘The Age of Darkness’ or the really addictive oud intro to ‘Return From Babylon’ (which should have been longer, as it was both different from what AQUILA offered up before, and sounded great). But overall the formula remains as follows—small intro, verses and choruses characterized by clear wailing vocals, maybe a solo thrown in. Some songs, like ‘Sunk Into the Ground’, do have instrumental bridges in them. And even if it’s weird, the rapid quasi-spoken female vocals that follow that at least made me pay attention to what was happening.

If you like melodic death metal that is closer to the power metal side of things, and most importantly, don’t mind orchestral instruments assuming most of the melodic role, you will probably enjoy listening to Holy Tide. As I said before, it is well-made and the songs make sense. Listening to the whole thing with no interruptions might be a little much though.

Originality: 7
Songwriting: 8
Memorability: 7
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Creation—the Divine Design
2. Exodus
3. Chains of Enoch
4. Godincidence
5. Curse and Ecstasy
6. Eagle Eye
7. The Crack of Dawn
8. Lord of the Armies
9. Sunk Into the Ground
10. The Age of Darkness
11. The Shepherd’s Stone
12. Lamentation
13. Return From Babylon
14. The Name of Blasphemy
Lineup:
Joe Caputo - 4 and 8-string bass
Gustavo Scaranelo - Guitar
Fabio Caldeira - Vocals
Michael Brush - Drums
Record Label: My Kingdom Music
     


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Edited 13 April 2021
 

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