OPEN BURN - Divine Intermission
September 6, 2018, 15 days ago
Those Greeks sure do love their classic metal bands. Case in point, a new release, courtesy of the excellent, niche label No Remorse, featuring 3/4 of the still living members of Lethal, who recorded the Programmed masterpiece, for Metal Blade, back in 1990. Sadly, vocalist Tom Malicoat isn't part of this line-up, nor is guitarist Eric Cook, the latter having died of lung cancer in '14. Eight tracks, plus a bonus/acoustic version of "Statues", found elsewhere in the running order as a fully electric rendition.
For once, the promo literature accurately portrays the music, but that's to be expected from the PR company of Bart Gabriel (husband to Crystal Viper frontwoman Marta), a devout metalhead whose reference points are decidedly underground, Eighties and far reaching. He writes, "Highly recommended for fans of Lethal, Queensryche, Fates Warning and Heir Apparent." Surely he means the dynamic landscape and a few veiled references to the stalwart mentors. The Programmed disc was widely (and favorably) compared to early Ryche (by '90, the Seattlites having already abandoned the style exhibited on the initial EP and The Warning). High pitched vocals are the name of the game here, with progressive/power metal overtones.
With the exception of the aforementioned "Statues" (in both incarnations), and a somber, Ryche-ish jangly guitar "Seven Orchids", the display of musicianship doesn't preclude the ability to rock out. At the beginning, "A Stone's Throw" appears to be a meandering jazz lounge jam, but quickly swerves into Arch-era Fates territory. Lots of subdued (nearly acoustic) introductions, but most proceed right to heavying it up, with guitar crunch. For some reason, "Mary's Lament" made me think of Aska, the traditional minded Texans who have lent out singer George Call to Banshee, Omen, Cloven Hoof and Emerald, amongst others, over the years. Six strings get gritty, nearly distorted, for "Pointless". "Dissection Lullaby" begins with singer in mere whisper and ends with guitar riffs approximating the ticking of a clock, as the drums mimic a beating heart.
Know Malicoat's voice was long the "Calling card", but after a couple of failed attempts with the former vocalist, Open Burn are poised to pick up the crestfallen Lethal fanbase. Perhaps there's a cryptic message in the faint heartbeat that opens/closes the disc. Hope so!