The Lesser Key of Solomon
"These days, it is one thing just to be able to release an album given the current state of the music business. However, to release said band’s best material while trying to pin down a job, scrap together some funds, have a family, maintain a “normal life” and deal with record companies with a 2014 “business model” is a whole other thing all together.
Most bands know that the gold at the end of this rainbow, through all the hard work and creativity, is merely deeming albums a “labor of love” and hope and pray they get enough gigs to make it “worth it” even with vast monetary loss. So is the life of A Sound of Thunder – a snapshot of a hard working band that is both the current and future of this business. Blessed with immense talent upswing that garners a “legion of thunder” to quickly reach crowdsourcing campaign goals, it is actually hard to take any record company offers seriously. Whether or not the band made a pact with the seven princes of hell, “The Lesser Key of Solomon” is A Sound Of Thunder's best work to date and a sleeper album of the year that should not go unnoticed.
In stark contrast to “Time’s Arrow” (which listening back now almost sounds Cro-Magnon by comparison), “The Lesser Key of Solomon,” pushes the band in a much more progressive and mature direction over a bed of gleefully evil lyrical content. The style is a unique combination of progressive rock, 90’s W.A.S.P. and an overly obvious dose of eerie King Diamond. Oddly enough, when the Kickstarter edition of opening track “Udoroth” was issued to backers, it was a real stripped down pure metal song in the “Queen of Hell” vein and seemed way more basic metal than what the band has been releasing in recent years. However, when the completed album version hit my stereo it was as if it had been transformed. Choirs, sound clips, and added vocal parts have expanded it into way more than the simple barbaric nature of the pre-release.
With longer songs and higher levels of progression all around, “The Lesser Key of Solomon” presents the band's most complex material to date – with a foursome of tracks in “The Boy Who Could Fly,” “Elijah,” “Blood From the Mummy’s Tomb,” and “House of Bones” that stand up to any album released this year and back. “Elijah” is near 10 minutes with so many flowing parts it could really be divided into three separate and distinct tracks, but it is just so damn perfect linked together.
Guitarist Josh Schwartz has perfected his craft over the years and each album presents an ever growing talent. On “Lesser” there is more exploration with bluesy styles alongside the usual butchering riffs and soaring, engaging solos that have propelled him into one of the best out there. Sadly though, he is still under the radar of most of the world. Check out the guitar emoting on “Black Secrets” and “House of Bones.” Backed up by the monster rhythm section of drummer Chris Haren and bassist Jesse Keen, the musicianship is absurdly fantastic.
Vocalist Nina Osegueda has blossomed into one of the leading front women in the business today (and if you haven’t heard….shame on you). You won’t hear an operatic droning or any glitzy bubble gum pop metal infused vocals that are all the rage in Scandinavia these days. What you get is ass kicking, bold, face-punching power. On “Lesser,” Osegueda really expands her “softer side” (shown last on “Time’s Arrow” favorite “I’ll Walk With You”). Check out the performances on “One Empty Grave” and “Lesser” favorite “The Boy Who Can Fly,” with just the perfect amount of emotion to draw listeners into the same feeling. On top of all that, Nina has clearly re-stumbled upon the King Diamond back catalog, for she adds a huge dose of creepy “sing song-telling” in tracks like “Elijah” (check out 7:34-7:50 for example).
Armed with the knowledge that the next album is already nearly completed… I can’t even imagine where this talented U.S. act will take its musical direction. “The Lessor Key of Solomon” already represents the best material the band has released to date, which is exactly how I felt with “Time’s Arrow.” The constant drive to be better coupled with perfect execution makes "The Lesser Key Of Solomon" easily rank among the elite albums released in 2014. Skipping over this album would be a real disservice to truly inspiring and independent music." - Metal Underground