On a Mission by Bloody Times
Opener "Alliance" has strains of organ and beautiful acoustic guitars to start us out. The calm before the storm, as it were. This is the song featuring Ross, and the Manowar feel is strong here. At 8+ minutes, it's an epic track, with all the elements you would expect from such a collaboration. "Fort Sumter" starts with distorted bass and is a bit thrasier. Being born in Charleston, South Carolina, I always felt the power of the story behind the rebellion shown in the shots fired from Fort Sumter to start the US Civil War, and it's remarkable that American history resonates in this way with European songwriters. "Die in a Hole" is the first song treatment of the story of the Thailand kids trapped in a cave that I've heard, and I dig its nice solo and wanderings between straight up power metal and thrash. "Curse of Genevieve" has this weird, almost indie-rock riff starting it out. That works to the group's advantage, creating moments that lean outside of the standard metal focus. "Future Secret" has very unexpected keyboards that remind me of '80s pop, followed by near-thrashing ala old school Metla Church. A lot of the music here is as singer Greely says, "Just good metal, pure" and the remaining songs demonstrate a willingness to cater to the fan base that just wants straight up metal, delivered with an utmost of power. "Day of Collapse" is probably my favorite here; this tribute to the fallen of the 9-11 terrorist attacks has a nice heavy bass into and easily contains the catchiest chorus on the album. It took me a couple of spins to get into it; sometimes the lyrics seem basic, but Greely's great melodic vocals create the earworm we need. Once again, I am amazed at Germans being so into American political and social issues.
The true star of this recording might be the mixing, to be honest; to take so many tracks recorded by different artists worldwide and create a coherent release that doesn't seem cobbled together is a real labor of love. Mixmaster Ogrego from England deserves a round of applause as much as any of the great musicians involved. Even if the band doesn't recreate this recording scenario or lineup in the future, they have proven that a strong alliance is within the reach of anyone with talent and the will to create powerful music.
Recommended if you like: Iced Earth, Judas Priest, Jag Panzer
Sean Knight is a South Carolina native who has bounced back and forth between Texas and SC most of his life. He has been playing music for over 30 years and writing about it for a decade. Always striving to listen, always striving to be heard.