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Antioch – V Award winner

Antioch
V
by Justin Joseph at 12 July 2021, 11:21 PM

“This just in, kids all around are storming the streets dawning iron clad bracelets and denim vests shouting to the skies ‘BY THE POWER OF GREYSKULL! I HAVE THE POWER!’ each wielding their own sword. Where the hell did they conjure these swords? We don’t know, but what we do know is that this phenomenon all began mere minutes after the younglings were reported listening to the EP by ANTIOCH titled ‘V’.”
A few minutes later…….

After listening to the EP myself, I can honestly say I would see this possible (still crossing my fingers for a sword to magically appear). You know that feeling you get when you listen to an album that makes you harken back to the past, the good times if you may, whatever those memories hold. ANTIOCH unlocks that for the listener, in my case, this EP definitely put a smile upon my face from the first to the last song, as it reminded me of the first bands that ushered me into the world that is Metal.

Now onto the real question, who is ANTIOCH? If you are not familiar with the band, they were formed in 2013 hailing from Canada, Ontario. Since then the lads have portrayed an impressive work ethic releasing three full length albums, one EP and of course, their most recent release as of 2021 entitled “V” (their second EP). Their sound? Well to simplify it, if one were to classify it, it would be traditional Heavy Metal. But upon listening to “V”, I won’t necessarily say it’s that black and white. This EP contains many traces of different genres fused into one body, such as early sounds of BLIND GUARDIAN, HELLOWEEN as well as a structural foundation built upon the sound of JUDAS PRIEST with a splash of 80’s hard rock to sweeten this cauldron’s mixture.

So after all that exposition, how is the EP? In summary, I think it’s fantastic, it clocks in at a length around 26 minutes with five songs. Just like a gleaming sword, this EP is sharp and precise, each song, even though it can stand on its own, combined together, it forms a mighty weapon indeed, one that gets the job done. Now let’s get into the belly of this beast!

The first track, “Hang The Eagle” opens the stage with the ringing of dissonant chords followed by ‘thrashy’ influenced riffs accompanied by a buildup of galloping drums. The vocals then rip through the atmosphere as though possessed by the spirit of Rob Halford’s “Painkiller” era, with a tinge of early BLIND GUARDIAN (think “Battalions Of Fear”) then at the 1:00 minute mark bursts into a falsetto-esque high that gives off a Warrel Dane-SANCTUARY vibe, then back into the main riff from the beginning. Even though I’ve quoted 3 bands thus far, it doesn’t mean that the song is disjointed, quite the opposite, there is a clear sign of respect of paying homage to the bands of before who pioneered this style. But ANTIOCH melds all these influences and forges their own sound, one that is consistent throughout. “Hang The Eagle” is a song that portrays this statement, not only is it one of the heaviest tracks on the EP but it pulls from thrash to speed metal with hints of power metal, and again, the way it is structured is well done. The song itself feels like a successor to JUDAS PRIEST’S ‘Painkiller’ and I mean that as a compliment as the solo around the 2:13 minute mark is evidence of this leaning towards the PRIEST style of riffing and man….IS IT GLORIOUS!

The second track “On A Ledge” takes a more laid back melodic approach, more reminiscent of the 80’s Hard Rock style. But the song does not sacrifice the EP’s heaviness, the spirit is still alive within the song, but just in a different shape. The vocals on this one evokes a Blackie Lawless (WASP) stitched together with parts of ALICE COOPER. On paper, this probably reads as a headscratcher but again, this Frankenstein absolutely works. But praise needs to be given to the lungs of this beast, the vocalist, Nicholas Allaire, for the style and ranges he hits is quite creative towards “V”, he pulls from different spirits throughout the era of Metal but with a twist to make it his own. “On A Ledge” feels like the most accessible track that would be used to lure a new crop of fans to the band, even those who may not be familiar with the genre as a whole, it even employs the use of a chanting chorus “I am sitting on a ledge, waiting for you to visit me again”. Trust me, by your second listening, you will be singing these words involuntary, it’s so catchy. But what breathes life into this track is the guitars, credit to the axe grinder, Jordan Rhyno, as his melodic composition and riffing style on this track is rather memorable, its one that will leave you humming when it’s finished. Listen to the riff at the 2:45 minute mark, which elevates the aura of the song to a more grandiose stature….and again, its sooo damn catchy!

The following track, “A Façade At The Third Castle” is the highlight of this EP and is my favorite track. At first it threw me off guard as it starts off again in the vein of the second track, more Hard Rock oriented. Which isn’t a bad thing, but the way the intro was set up, it seemed as though it was veering into the less-heavy territory, still good non the less. This lasts for 1:45 minutes and then BOOM, you are instantly met with that furious thrash style riffing once again complimented by the crashing cymbals and then launching into a primal like war cry, again similar to Warrel Dane mixed with Rob Halford. The drumming on the other hand by Brendan Rhyno, adds a different layer to the high vocals with the fills used. Besides that, the tone is thick and thunderous throughout the EP and is definitely a standout on this song as well as the EP. The build up to the 2:40 mark which is also the chorus is where the strength of this track lies, as it utilizes a different vocal approach in the guise of the track “Majesty” (from BLIND GUARDIAN) adding to it a boisterous essence. Earlier in the review, I made a satirical comment pertaining to He-Man (forgive my poor taste in jokes) and this was the track that exuded that fantasy-like spirit with the riff starting around 4:33 in the track that paints that sword and sorcery theme.

The fourth track, “Demon Wick” retreats back into that Hard Rock flavor and the description may seem odd, but what I do adore in this track is the vocal melody. It’s almost a spell-like chant that is effectively used as it gradually builds up to the chorus hitting at the 1:00 minute mark. But what makes this track so alluring, besides the chant-like chorus is the dual combo of the guitar and drums which adds a mystifying element to the song as a whole. The verse that begins with “The creatures of the damned, prowl in when they can the terror you try to ignore….” is a prime example of the trio working in sync to construct that mystifying atmosphere as mentioned. Like all the three tracks before, there is always a memorable solo, and this one around the 2:15 minute mark accentuates the song to a new level.

Closing off the album is “Cloven Hooves” where the tracks that came before were masked in different skins, this one takes the shape of a Rock n’ Roll /Punk influenced style but still in line with its roots embedded in Heavy Metal. The track feels as though it was built upon the skeletal framework of “Take Me To The Top” (by MÖTLEY CRÜE) but instead the skeleton was laced with copious amounts of adamantium (sorry for that poor Wolverine reference…but you get the point). It’s a no nonsense track especially with the riffs and drum patterns which resembles the early years of IRON MAIDEN (think self-titled and “Killers”). It’s the most simplistic track when compared to the rest, but still a fitting end to this mammoth of an EP.

So what’s the verdict? You may realize I didn’t really elaborate on the negatives, because in my opinion for what the EP does, it accomplishes its job splendidly. What I also appreciate is that even though the band pays tribute to the other pioneers of this style, the nostalgia trip doesn’t overshadow the experience, meaning the EP stands rather well on its own musically. The only negative is that this should have been an album! ANTIOCH…come on man, one or two more songs would have bumped this up to the album status! I don’t mean any disrespect towards the band, its just this EP just leaves you wanting more. If this is a taste of what’s to come in the future, then sign me up for that menu! I can see this EP becoming the gateway for a newcomer to explore a vast world that is Metal, just like the bands BLIND GUARDIAN, SACRED STEEL, IRON MAIDEN, etc. did for me and…. And if “V” does that for someone, then that’s quality right there! Oh and on a side note, if by chance…by some miracle, there is someone from the series Cobra Kai reading this, get these guys music on that show Pronto! I’ve heard bands like WASP, AIRBOURNE and even DEE SNIDER on that show. ANTIOCH would be a great addition to the series music and homage to 80’s Hard Rock.
Cheers ANTIOCH!

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 9


 

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Hang the Eagle
2. On a Ledge
3. A Facade at the Third Castle
4. Demon Wick
5. Cloven Hooves
Lineup:
Jordan Rhyno - Bass, Guitars
Brendan Rhyno - Drums
Nicholas Allaire - Vocals
Record Label: Iron Shield Records
     


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