Something just piqued my interest. It’s one of these cases, where you expect one thing, and you get quite another. Like you order a T-Bone and you get a lesson in veganism. Okay, it’s not that bad, but we are getting close.
So, here we came across Cwn Annwn, named after the famous Hounds of the Afterworld of Welsh folklore. A band name written in the unspeakable language of the little people from the hills. The descendants of the (very) mystical King Arthur, who valiantly fought the Anglo-Saxons, but finally lost. The folks that got themselves banned to present-day Wales a long time ago, as some historians claim. Where they still dwell to this day and secretly dream of returning and driving the old vile enemy out. Well, at least some still do.
Yet, Cwn Annwn hail from Minnesota in the good ‘ol USA. Not from the misty hills in the old country. A true metal band if there ever was one. And they just released Patron Saint, their fifth full-length album.
But confusion reigns somewhat. The band states that Heavy Metal is their trade. Perhaps like Infinight, who knows. Or that their tune should resemble bands like Unleash The Archers, which is – come to think of it – Power Metal. So in this sense, the lead – Julie Stelmaszewski – thus needs to start her metal screams and pump up the volume somewhat terrible. But she ain’t. She more sounds like some sort of a low-energy Lzzy Hale without the screeching. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Or – hold on to your seat – the band likens their female-fronted style to once entertaining bands like Battle Beast. Come again? As punishment, I guess they need to be locked in a room and made to listen to the latest offering of that band straight from Nuclear Blast’s vomitory. This horrible 2019 popsicle suitably calls itself No More Hollywood Endings. And this will continue until they confess to the practical joke they play on the poor RMR deck crew.
But we still liked what we found on Patron Saint. Cwn Annwn are many things, but surely no pure Heavy Metal band. For example, Patron Saint – the title track – gets off the ground with this polyrhythmic monster that more sounds like Queensrÿche‘s crazed idea of prog. You know, with a focus on the steely metal part of Progressive Metal that many adepts of the djent legion try so hard to forget. Even if the band did indulge in exactly that practice later. Or – again – take Gods of Needles that delivers flavors of Tech Metal that really made me listen up. A highly complex piece that could live up there with the best.
Yet, Patron Saint sometimes boasts these slack-jawed growls that pop up out of nowhere. And those sit there kinda senselessly with no other reason to exist than to annoy people. Albeit and again, Cwn Annwn – finally – produce a refreshingly aggressive redemption in Ice From the Sun. Complete with real growls and shouted vocals that really hold their water. Plus a technically outstanding solo that I truly enjoyed. We should have seen more of that abject aggression.
So, all of that gallivanting about the metal multiverse gets us a hint of what kind of prowess this band is able to master. Varied, reasonably brutal, sometimes truly complex and complicated, and deliciously out of control. So, we have ourselves a dose of pretty high-quality metal brought to your door from a band out of the MidWest.
Then, why is Cwn Annwn not better known in the world of metal? Let’s break a lance for the vile marketing. In the band’s own words, Record Labels are an outdated business concept. That is something that I can emotionally relate to. But this self-made strategy won’t work if your website is basically a MailChimp page. Or your other data on social networks is outdated. Or – again – I find no visuals to speak of on platforms like YouTube when moving pictures are all the rage to sell a band. And without that marketing strategy, no band will ever be known, the money will not flow in, and you are – basically – on the road to oblivion.
When we started to work on Patron Saint, we expected this dime-a-dozen, singular metal band. But – instead – we found rebellion. Something that usually is typical with punk rock bands, but not with the often strangely conformist metal gigs.
Patron Saint gets you this amalgam of true metal and red-hot rock so complex that it may overwhelm many a fan. Cwn Annwn boast a piece of multifaceted and pretty outstanding Alternative Metal that you have to look for in this day and age.
This is a band that clearly wants to stand outside of the beaten path. And they do that with good quality metal taken from what they consider to be the best. It is indeed a thorny road that they chose for themselves, but one we wholeheartedly salute.
Record Rating: 7/10 | Label: Self-Released | Web: Official Site
Release date: 23 June 2019
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