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Intense - Songs of a Broken Future

Intense
Songs of a Broken Future
by Emily Schneider at 06 April 2020, 11:15 PM

Power Metal is a colorful genre of music with many branches that come off of the main limb. With British band INTENSE, you could say their variety of Power Metal is on the shadier side of the tree branch. They certainly aim for the darker side of Power Metal, similar to bands like RAGE and DEMONS & WIZARDS. They blend in NWOBHM and I'd say some Melodic Metal bits on their 4th album (and their first in 9 years) called “Songs of a Broken Future”.

Starting with the second track, “End of Days” has some cool riffs. I was a bit surprised by the vocals; I have this subconscious habit of expecting tenor ranged singers who hit those air raid siren high notes when I know I'm listening to modern day Power Metal. It's silly, but it surprised me anyway. “Head Above Water” reminded me a lot of ICED EARTH. Something about the melody paired with the chuggy riffs evokes their "Burnt Offerings" era really well. “Final Cry” made me say “Well damn, this sounds like a new NEVERMORE song.” Sean's voice sounds a lot like the late great Warrel Dane in this one then the almost thrashy vibe about the melodic riffs fits that style perfectly. I loved the shreddy solo and how this song has this urgent 'fight or flight' energy to it. “Songs of a Broken Future” brings on the awesome Melodic Metal riffage and mood building melodies. The dystopian vibe is painted throughout this nearly 7 minute track with emotional vocals and an almost gloomy feel to the pacing. The solo even had a melancholy feel to it. “The Social Elite” has some stellar melodic guitar work. The lyrical content is very timely to 21st century social media dependency and internet culture as a whole, which explains the lurking vibe I was feeling from the music.

“The Jester's Smile” was kind of underwhelming until the awesome key and tempo change midway through the song. The slow down built the drama of the Jester's plight and it led into the great shredfest solo. “The Tragedy of Life” has a really cool noticeable bass line humming along with this catchy riff heavy song. There's a few tempo changes in this song, which is always fun to hear in a song of around average length. Adds a neat dimension to any track. “Until the Memories Fade” is a slower tempo ballad. Ballads are iffy in this Melodic Power Metal genre. They often come across as cheesy or just out of place. This one wasn't bad, but not great either. I think the main thing I liked was my constant favorite part of most of the songs, the guitar solo, but this song was still pretty bland. “Stand or Fall” had me banging my head almost right away. The riffs are aggressive, you just wanna break stuff (or at least get pumped up in the moshpit) when you hear this battle anthem song. “Children of Tomorrow” is another ballady song and it was admittedly pretty boring. I wasn't feeling the emotion I think a song with lyrics like this needs at all. Everything was fine, solid but it wasn't all that moving, especially for it being the closing track.

Overall, “Songs of a Broken Future” was solid enough. The first half was much stronger than the second half. It turned to lots of ICED EARTH sounding ballads and one really bad-ass track thrown in all astray as the second to last song. Therein lies one of my issues with this album, the song order. It didn't flow well. The strongest songs start off the album with a bang then you get through the title track and it gets dicey. It almost felt like they put their all into tracks 1 through 6,  then the others felt different. Which leads to another issue. I had a hard time finding a connection or feeling any emotions with a handful of the songs. The lyrics were emotional, but the delivery wasn't always there to match it. Finding the balance of the right amount of emotion can  be tricky and while trying to stand on the fence, several of the tracks fell face first onto the 'we're just playing the music' side of it. Not all is negative about this album though. When they're into the music, you can feel it. The guitarists kick some major ass and blend some tasty NWOBHM riffs and flair in with Melodic Power Metal mix really well. The vocals are like a morph of Warrel Dane and Matt Barlow at times; the influence is heavily apparent. (not that I'm complaining, I love both vocalists a lot!) I digress, this album is an odd one with some unique issues and positive aspects that combine to a mid-range rating.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 6
Production: 6

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. The Oncoming Storm
2. End Of Days
3. Head Above Water
4. Final Cry
5. I Agonise
6. Songs Of A Broken Future
7. The Social Elite
8. The Jesters Smile
9. The Tragedy Of Life
10. Until The Memories Fade
11. Stand Or Fall
12. Children Of Tomorrow
Lineup:
Sean Hetherington – vocals
Nick Palmer – guitars
Dave Peak – guitars
Stephen Brine – bass
Neil Ablard – drums
Record Label: Pure Steel Records
     


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