Note: This review was originally written in November 2014, but was not posted here due to technical issues. I now present it to you, late but proud. Keep an eye out for ASOT’s forthcoming release, Shadowman: Tales From The Deadside.
A Sound Of Thunder have been a busy band for, well, as long as I’ve known them. It seems as though every time I sit down to review their newest album they have already written half of the next one. And that’s if they’re feeling lazy! But this doesn’t surprise me one bit, for the group is brimming with talent and likes to dabble in a little of everything. Their latest offering is called The Lesser Key of Solomon, which arrived September 2014, but it is far from a lesser album in this prolific band’s catalogue.
I had heard this release was a darker and more story driven compared to their previous albums, which is true to some extent. Within this opus are stories of death and destruction; voodoo, curses, and resurrections; and pleasures of controlling flesh, mind, and soul. Not exactly the stuff from which children’s books are made! It’s not a single story that’s being told, as I originally expected, but rather a handful of stories that all lay within the realm of horror. The lack of a single epic narration was a little disappointing to me, especially when my arm became covered with goosebumps at the sound of the opening track, “Nexus of Reality,” an instrumental reminiscent to the introductory “Anarchy X” of Queensryche’s famous concept album, Operation: Mindcrime. But I got over it, for the songs to follow soothed my ears with their combination of tenderness and vehemence.
You don’t have to be a heavy metal fan to like A Sound Of Thunder, but admittedly it helps. A track like “Udoroth,” which regales us with the tale of the “seventy-third infernal spirit evoked by King Solomon,” is an unrelenting monster bent on sonic supremacy. The other tracks, as dark as they may be, can be hard hitting, but lean towards a more dynamic balance of aggression and breathing room, such as “One Empty Grave,” which alternates between multi-string finger-plucked guitar verses and thick distorted riffs. And finally you have the ballads, such as “The Boy Who Could Fly,” though this long distance love story is borne more out of the supernatural than most others you may find. Gentle to the touch, coated with the silky smooth voice of frontwoman, Nina Osegueda, the song resonates with sincerity and emotion. Don’t even get me started on the heart-wrenching guitar solo from Josh Schwartz, who always seems to find the sweet spot on the fretboard.
The Lesser Key of Solomon is another step forward for A Sound Of Thunder. By releasing albums so quickly, they aren’t taking giant strides in style that alienate their fans, but rather allow us to see the changes come gradually. They’re becoming more comfortable and adventurous, bringing more instruments into the fold and incorporating different musical themes into their passion for traditional heavy metal, but they’ll still knock your teeth out. If you’re new to the band, you may want to steer yourself to Time’s Arrow or Out Of The Darkness first, as the subject matter is more diverse, but you’d be remiss if you didn’t come back to this wonderful work of art.