You have records that follow you around like some sort of a ghost. They lurk in the background, hide in the corners of your auditory senses. With a sound that is kinda good, but not really good.
Sturdy metal that should warrant your attention, but then again doesn’t captivate. Because the vile mainstream raises its ugly head each time you pick up the record, out of a morass of same, same but different. Stuff we somehow heard before in a misty broth of elements loosely strung together with guitar strings. This so happened with Henry Metal and his 2107 debut album So It Hath Begun.
Yet, what got me to listen to this record in more detail is the ‘let’s break things’ approach this gig has taken. The cheeky aspect that just adds a little spice to the metal. And the fact that Henry Metal does not take things too seriously, methinks.
Now, whilst RMR contemplated So It Hath Begun for a few months, Henry Metal went into a frenzy. And threw some whopping five – yes five – full-length records on the market in 2017. And another one on the first of fucking January in the Year of the Lord 2018. Plus compilations and singles for good measure.
Meaning, he’s churning out records like other bands do singles – if they are REALLY creative. A man with artistic loins capable to eject material like some proverbial firehose.
This bears the question: Is all of this stuff good? Or are we drowning quality in a sea of mediocrity of mass-produced cookie-cutter tracks? Well, one thing is certain: Henry Metal understands his metal.
Nomen est omen, right?
And he indeed masters the launch of a new product – in this case the band and its tune. A relentless, full immersion approach involving a felt gazillion media outlets. The most important social media channels all aflame. With a score of videos produced to round it up. So, this is the base for this first clutch of tracks delivered in So It Hath Begun.
Influenced by NWoBHM, the album sports nods to King Diamond and Black Sabbath, elements of Iron Maiden, and – for sure – a heavy dosage of Judas Priest. Only that Henry Metal prefers face paint instead of garish, tight leathery outfits. And that is a relief right there.
All this posturing apart, So It Hath Begun delivers a good, down-home, but still somewhat basic and watery brand of metal. Some sort of an amalgam of tracks, heavily equalized, lest someone would take exception should a metal scream arise.
Then comes the production, which is – whilst not bad – not stellar either. The record is full of rough edges that someone forgot to smoothen out. And this is bad news in a very established genre, where the quality of production is usually outstanding. As opposed to others, like the Black Metal folks, where some outfits deliberately get you lo-fi material to make a point.
On the upside, you will find these quirky, strange constructs like Working for the Man or Henry’s Saga. Somewhat punk-esque in nature, those capture the listener’s attention pretty quickly. I am sure that this kind of thing truly will piss off the mainstream metalhead – and it shows in the comments I read so far.
But hey, break a lance for innovation, right?
And this type of track always nurtures this hope. The hope that the light you see at the end of the tunnel is actually an improvement and not the freight train boring down on you. Oh, and I almost forgot. The aforementioned Henry’s Saga gets you the only solo – albeit short – that is really worth its salt.
But, finally, until the quality does not kick itself into gear a bit better, things will not improve. So It Hath Begun is a somewhat mid-level metal offering that demonstrates potential. But for some reason, Henry Metal does not take it further than that. You can feel the talent and the savvy. The cheeky approach to things and the many subjects that irk the songwriter to no end.
But as long as all of those qualities will not lead to a first-rate tune, not much will come out of it. So, instead of firehosing the music market with an endless supply of medium-level tracks, a careful selection might have been better. Who knows, things might have been stellar.
But – alas – not this time.
Record Rating: 4/10 | Label: Self-Released | Web: Official Site
Release date: 24 April 2017