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Screamking – Thee Indomitable Spirit

Screamking
Thee Indomitable Spirit
by kenn staub at 23 September 2021, 10:22 PM

SCREAMKING is an American hybrid metal band from NW Indiana. The band, which formed in 2011, describes “Thee Indomitable Spirit” (released June 25, 2021), its third full-length offering, as its most anticipated album to date. Joining SCREAMKING on this effort are such notables as HARRY CONKLIN (JAG PANZER), RUSTEY COOLEY (DAY OF RECKONING), RONNY MUNROE (METAL CHURCH, TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA), TIM “RIPPER” OWENS (JUDAS PRIEST, YNGWIE MALMSTEEN, ICED EARTH), JAMES RIVERA (HELSTAR), and JOE STUMP (ALCATRAZ).

I took several pages of notes listening to “Thee Indomitable Spirit,” perhaps more than for any album I’ve reviewed since coming aboard Metal Temple a little over a year ago. This is not a good thing. Looking over my notes, a few themes emerge.

My biggest issue with “The Indomitable Spirit” is the vocals. The lead and harmonies range anywhere from shrilly high pitched (ex. “Legacy Of Honor,” “Reign Of Hellfire,” “Legacy Of Honor,” “Sending Down The Blood Of Blood,” “Trail Of Death”) to cartoonish (ex. “Thee Indomitable Spirit”) to off-key (ex. “Lady Bathory,” “House Of Iga”) to duets that just don’t work (ex. “Tecumseh’s Revenge (Curse Of The Prophet)”). Several songs also suffer from a lack of structure, causing them to sound disjointed. In many instances, this seems the result of trying to work in too many ideas at once. Tracks such as “Unleashing The Demon,” “Sending Down The Blood Of Blood,” “Tecumseh’s Revenge (Curse Of The Prophet),” and “Kunoichi” have so much going on I wondered what SCREAMKING is trying to accomplish (maybe it’s me, maybe I just don’t get it). Finally, some musical elements appear out-of-place and/or meandering; most frequently the guitar solos and shredding (ex. “Trail Of Death,” “Spirits In White,” “The Silence of Violence.”)

Unlike many contemporary American news sources, I aim to be fair and balanced. Therefore, having dispensed with the unpleasantries, I’d like to share the strengths SCREAMKING display. When playing cohesively, the instrumentalists are more than capable of laying down dense, aggressive melodies that serve as the backbone on any number of tracks (ex. “Reign Of Hellfire,” “Caligula,” “Legacy of Honor,” the instrumental “Unleashing The Demon,” “Sending Down The Blood Of The Blood,” “Trail of Death,” “Kunoichi”). I’d like to call out the guitar playing again, this time for praise. Rafael Hernandez and James Noble evidence exemplary tandem work on “Legacy Of Honor” and “Sending Down The Blood Of The Blood.” Additionally, there are a few pretty damn good solos; including those on “Thee Indomitable Spirit,” “Reign Of Hellfire” (a pair, each taking the listener on a ride), “Legacy Of Honor,” “Sending Down The Blood Of The Blood” (the solo remaining interesting throughout its extended length), and “Kunoichi.” The simple, repeating guitar line on the spooky “Blood Lust” and the spare, Far-Eastern-inflected guitar intro to “House of Iga” also deserve accolades.

The one track I really enjoyed, meandering guitar solo aside, was “The Silence of Violence.” This song has a hardcore punk sensibility, rhythmic spoken words over a big, aurally appealing melody. In sum, what makes “The Silence of Violence” enjoyable is the purpose with which the number is played and that the singer eschews any overly high-pitched histrionics.

SCREAMKING has its moments in the body of work that is “Thee Indomitable Spirit,” just not very many. More often than not, listening to the album proves to be somewhat of a chore, primarily because of vocal performance issues and the seeming lack of direction of many of its tracks. This album is chock full of ideas, putting me in mind of a “let’s throw this up against the wall and see if it sticks” approach. To this end, “Thee Indomitable Spirit” is proof that, though it’s okay to have ideas, one must also realize that not all of them will be good or necessarily need recorded.

Musicianship: 6
Songwriting: 4
Memorability: 3
Production: 4

2 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Thee Indomitable Spirit
2. Reign Of Hellfire
3. Caligula
4. Legacy Of Honor
5. Unleashing The Demon
6. Sending Down The Blood Of The Blood
7. Tecumseh’s Revenge (Curse Of The Prophet)
8. Trail Of Death
9. Kunoichi
11. Blood Lust/Lady Bathory
12. The Science Of Violence
13. House Of Iga
Lineup:
Joe Lawson – Lead Vocals
Rafael Hernandez – Guitars, Vocals
James Noble – Guitars, Vocals
Tim Miller – Bass, Vocals
Wendall Craig – Drums
Record Label: Independent
     


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