Grim Observations: A Sound Of Thunder – Tales From The Deadside (2015)

After a Kickstarter campaign, A Sound Of Thunder shortly released this brand new concept album based on the nearly forgotten character, Shadow Man. If you’re not aware of the Vodouin superhero of sorts, he’s closer to your antihero in Spawn and actually enjoyed a rather brilliant and under appreciated action adventure game (which you can still get on GOG.com for cheap) of the same name. The concept of Tales From The Deadside immediately brings to mind that of Iced Earth’s The Dark Saga, which of course was based on Image’s Spawn. In any case, Tales Of The Deadside literally takes us on a journey of epic proportion and works to display the full talents of a band that should have been famous a long time ago. They’ve had several discs before this one and I’m quite sure that they’re all quite potent efforts with frontwoman Nina Osegueda continuing to prove as potent a force to the band as John Schwartz’s thunderous doom riffs, and his mind-boggling solos. There is no doubt in my mind that Tales From The Deadside is their most commercial release and certainly contains more radio accessible material like that of “Can’t Go Back” (6:11) and the balladic “Alyssa (Life In Shadows)” (4:20) which demonstrate all the trimmings of female fronted metal at it’s absolute finest. Looking back, I even remember The Dark Saga having it’s commercial moments in “I Died For You” which was a rather large hit for Iced Earth and saw them catapulted to rock stardom. I suspect the same to happen here with A Sound Of Thunder, in which I’m obviously drawing a lot of Iced Earth comparisons. Not so much in sound and style, as those guys are more power/thrash and these guys definitely bring in more of the doom and classic heavy metal; but in musicianship. Iced Earth could always play rather well and you could tell that from their earlier albums (Night Of The Stormrider, Burnt Offerings) that they were indeed a one of a kind metal act. Now we know them as a household name.

Just like Iced Earth never played like any other power metal or thrash act, A Sound Of Thunder don’t play doom like any other doom act, female fronted or not. They’re not Candlemass, Manilla Road, Saint Vitus, Demon Lung or Castle. No, this is something that I feel is a bit more bright and vibrant; charged with the fury of traditional heavy metal as you can definitely hear the band’s influences (Maiden, Priest, Sabbath, Dio, Hammerfall, Helloween, Rush and others) proudly displayed throughout each and every song on the disc. They even use vocal backing samples from children on “Children Of The Dark” (7:18) as well as some playful keyboard moments on “Sandiria”(Carry On) (5:52). There’s even a little bit of saxophone utilized on “Punk Mambo” (4:11) which has a bit of a unique flair due to the song starting out like a bit of a thrasher. There are some truly wonderful pieces here like “Losing Control (The Unquiet Shadow)” (6:09) and the closer “End Times” (7:05) which truly displays the doom in all of it’s glory, in which Nina sings her ass off on both – or well, the whole album to be honest. Her performance here is earth-shattering and one of the most captivating performances I’ve ever heard in this genre. Ladies, instead of looking up to Taylor Swift and Avril Lavigne, you should be looking up to Nina Osegueda. Let me put it to you this way, she doesn’t sing crap like “Baby, I’m worth it” over and over again in a hypnotically foul tone. Instead, she sings real, passionate music and literally bellows out lines in the nature of the mighty Bruce Dickinson, Rob Halford and even the mighty Ronnie James Dio. Merely writing about this kind of performance fails to do it justice and you’ll just have to hear the record from the band’s Bandcamp page, which you can grab for about four dollars as a digital copy unless you’d rather pick up a disc with all kinds of awesome artwork for twelve. How ever your choose to digest it, just make sure you do. Tales Of The Deadside makes for an awesome Halloween treat that you can listen to again and again, and it won’t turn your poop green, so that’s a bonus.

All kidding aside, I’ve made a lot of comparisons to Iced Earth throughout this review and I’m sure by now that you’re all thinking that I’m going to say that A Sound Of Thunder will be the next Iced Earth. Well, that’s exactly what I’m saying. When I listened to The Lesser Key Of Solomon last year and now this monolith of a recording, I knew for sure that we had another great American heavy metal act on our hands that people would come to respect. Sure enough, these guys are already selling the heck out of these records and are even set to play a show with the legendary Sanctuary (with Warrel Dane, of course) in just a couple of days. It seems that their many years of hard work and dedication have paid off, and by all means, I can start referring to these guys as rock stars. Knowing that I wanted such an awesome band to become famous pleases me very much, as they literally deserve every bit of splendor that comes their way. They even wanted to play a show with my band Torii here in Arkansas, but we don’t have enough time to get stage musicians together and teach them all of the parts in time for the performance. I’d need some of that Voodoo magic to get able men and women together that quickly. Even so, I’m actually honored that they asked to play a show with us, and the news came right after I’d gotten finished hearing the record. Long story short, you definitely need to get your hands on this one. Tales Of The Deadside is just as memorable as the band’s last effort and it seems that you don’t even need this review to tell you that. If you haven’t yet joined The Legions Of Thunder, then now is a great time to become a fan. This my friends, is real heavy metal that we can be proud of here in the US. Rejoice and raise your horns!

(10 Tracks, 59:00)

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