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Penance - Dawn Of A New (Sav)Age

Dawn Of A New (Sav)Age
by Dorothy Cheng at 04 April 2013, 11:23 AM

There is a tradition of modern Death Metal bands leaning toward the melodic and groove side such as ARCH ENEMY, AMON AMARTH and of course every teenage Metal chick’s favorite, CHILDREN OF BODOM. It seems like the perfect for another such band to come out, but can they match up to the mainstream quality of the above bands? PENANCE just might be able to, with an album packed full of riffing goodness, a true blessing to the world of metal with their powerful verses and memorable melodies.

The guitars are a true standout on the album with a good thick sound and a crunch quality to their creative, brutal riffs. The first track “Broken Night”, essentially a marching tune, served as a great intro to the rest of the tracks that followed, showcasing the band’s penchant for rhythm-based songs. One of the standout tracks, “Anthem of the Damned” started out strong, thundering in the true fashion of a death metal band. The song progressed professionally, with the expected virtuosity of death metal band. Suddenly though comes a random part with vocalist Jon “Warlock” Keane’s AMON AMARTH voice going into the melodic realm. He proved he can sing, but the sudden jump felt jarring to me.

This “jump” was heard on, “Envy the Dead” as well, which started with a slow intro on a muted guitar sound that worked beautifully in terms of atmosphere. Once again the great riffs were present but so were to sudden bouts of singing. This time though it felt more connected and purposeful, although I hoped for the life of me that the band wasn’t trying to throw those singing parts in just for the sake of appealing to the melodic crowd and those not accustomed to full-on screaming. There were also random parts where the slow intro popped in again, giving the track a very experimental and Avant Garde feel. At this point, I’m still not sure if that is what the band is trying to achieve, but for it felt both a little off-kelter and badass at the same time. Going back to the vocals, Keane possess some great chops and mirrors that of AMON AMARTH’s Johan Hegg, except with more sustainability and a slight Metalcore feel. In fact, the entire album is very AMON AMARTH-inspired, infused with some punk, hard rock, and most of all, groove influences.

“The Great Human Disgrace” is one of those songs that showcased the band’s Metalcore leanings, which worked great with the band’s overall emphasis on rhythm. This song was one hell of a brain blender with its steady and unrelenting rhythm and even a gratifying solo blast. Another standout track, “Prelude of the Damned”, is really a “prelude”, the term being used within the sense of classical music. A Modern, slightly Romantic piano piece, it made me wonder where the Metal was in this, but then I reminded myself that classical music is the father of all music, with Wagner essentially birthing BLACK SABBATH and Beethoven birthing CHILDREN OF BODOM. The band knew to join the piano parts with a soaring guitar and drums chorus that brought the entire track back to the realm of Metal, sealing the impassioned virtuosity of the piano with the raw emotion of the guitars.

The final track, “New Dawn”, was the first track to really showcase bassist Gaz Lynch’s role in the mostly rhythm-based music of PENANCE, pushing the boundaries of the album’s sound with the clear emphasis on the basic sounds of both groove and Death, executed to near perfection with a very simple yet outstanding rhythm skeleton. It is easily said that PENANCE is on their way to fame in the metal world with their easy-to-listen and brutal edge mixed together to form a nice blend of what a model Death Metal band should sound like without forgetting their underground roots.

The only comment I have on the negative side is regarding their album cover. I really could not for the life of me comprehend it. Maybe it’s PENANCE’S way of standing out, but seeing as their music has the potential to be on its way to making its debut on metal radio, maybe other strategies are in line for them. 

4 Star Rating

1. Broken Night
2. The Great Human Disgrace
3. Needles, Dogs, and Dead Bodies
4. These Memories
5. Lone Wolf
6. Envy the Dead
7. Prelude of the Damned
8. Anthem of the Damned
9. Penance
10. New Dawn
Gaz Lynch – Bass
George “Wolverine” Roberts – Drums
Simon Lupton – Lead Guitar
Josh “Yoshi” Brown – Rhythm Guitar
Jon “Warlock” Keane - Vocals
Record Label: Independent


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