One of the main challenges a metal band has in this ever-growing mass of often mediocre material is to stand out and shine. Many genres have been beaten to death so many times that any use of them will resemble that proverbial dead horse. It’s a conundrum of sorts that some manage well – and others less so.
And you basically get two factions. The first is the party of the diehard traditionalists. They will doggedly stick to the basics of any given subgenre, and no matter what. And thus, they will most likely find themselves lodged in that dreaded underground that’s often like a dungeon with no escape hatch. It is of course true that you find shining examples of global success. Like Epica for instance that made Symphonic Metal great back in time together with a few partners in crime. But that almost only happens when a genre is new, a shiny object for fans to fuss over.
Then, you’ll get those bands that freely taketh from whatever works for them. And those often end up on the RMR review pipe. That’s because they care less about boundaries, but – instead – concentrate on actually making music. And they (wisely) let others worry about which one of the many complicated subgenres their wares may be connected with. Or not.
The folks over at Rage of Light took an interesting tack to take a shot at that particular puzzle. Their newest record Redemption presents a wild mix of styles ranging from pretty snazzy Melodeath, over Power Metal, to hints at a few ‘core’ samples and electronica. Yet, the band seems to throw their lot in with what someone hilariously called Trance Metal some time back. You know, Pop Metal that will mostly appeal to a bunch of EDM1)-crazed grooveballs in glitzy clubs. Rich kids who have about as much an inkling of metal as Ozzy2) would be able to whine himself through an opera.
In other words, Rage of Light here leans more into the disco-proof Amaranthe scheme than they would ever favor Kamelot. And that’s not necessarily a strong point. So, the RMR selection committee was about to can the record – until their new vocalist – Martyna Halas – crossed our hawse. She uses clear voice and growls alternatively, and that truly made us listen up. Indeed, her growling style somewhat resembles Aephanemer‘s Marion Bascoul.
The record gorges with an abundance of ideas that somehow compete with each other. On one side they have that urge to go down Amaranthe lane, albeit at a level that’s still bearable. Even if 2.0 desperately tried to convince us otherwise. Then the band displays some pretty snazzy excursions into the Power Metal realm which are – pretty promising.3) Last, but not least, their Melodic Death Metal presence and the hardened core examples are pretty strong. And this is what I would have liked to see more of.
Yet often, the rapid-fire trance interludes steal that breathing room from other genres present. And that turns Redemption into a thing that one would expect to discover at an illegal rave party full of speed. In other words, the record constantly races away to places that many other bands have been before, instead of concentrating on new horizons.
Also, we picked up some impurities. Like these “…hey-hey…” yells on Lead The Riots, for instance. Those are a great tool of sorts during concerts and the live arrangements will take care of that. But formal records won’t need a come-on. Or take the abundant use of the drum machine which leads to a somewhat bloodless and sterile drum performance. Albeit that it’s pretty well executed for a robot.
Ultimately though, Rage of Light have a lot going for them. Their spiel is powerful and straightforward, with a gazillion of hooks that continually made us always come back to the record. As per the description of the band, Redemption wishes to be Trance Metal. And whilst there is a fair portion of that on the album, the Death Metal or heavy parts return the best bang for the buck. They got real oomph right there with a vocalist that is worth every ounce of metal she throws at the audience.
And you may have guessed it in the meantime. The RMR crew is no friend of the often totally overblown Pop Metal genre. Yet, this band here has got the goods to break out from those sadly worn-out tropes4) and go for real, tough, and crunchy metallic fare. Or some tasty mix somewhere in between.
But for some reason, they didn’t quite do that yet. Maybe next time. Who knows, right?
Record Rating: 6/10 | Label: Self-Released | Web: Official Band Site
Release Date: 8 December 2021