ASHEN REIGN — An Angels Burden (review)

ASHEN REIGN — An Angels Burden album cover Album · 2011 · Power Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
Conor Fynes
'An Angel's Burden' - Ashen Reign (6/10)

Although most 'true' music fans will say that the music industry has fallen apart, and the end is nigh for any real art, we live in an age now where, with enough dedication, an artist can put together music without any support from a record label. Such is the case of Brent McDaniel, and his Ashen Reign project. Although it was mastered by engineer Jens Bogren (best known for his work with Opeth), Ashen Reign is virtually the sole work of Brent; his vision, his passion. Playing a very melodic style of metal with a tinge of Gothic atmosphere, 'An Angel's Burden' makes for a fairly interesting album with a surprisingly original sound.

Like most who will hear 'An Angel's Burden', I have never heard anything that Brent has done in the past, but considering that this is an indie effort, the execution of this music is surprisingly professional. First and foremost, McDaniel is a guitarist. This is where his greatest talent lies, and the songwriting reflects this.A tlhgouh many of the most memorable melodies are allocated to his distinctive vocal style, the guitars are where Brent leaves the greatest impression. Brent's approach to composition tends to favour tight song structures, but there are moments where Brent's flair for axework is able to shine. The title track of 'An Angel's Burden' opens with a beautiful minute-long intro in which soulful soloing and melodic licks are fused into a passage that effectively showcases his work with the guitar. Of course, there are plenty of guitar solos along the course of the album to make 'An Angel's Burden' a haven for those seeking great guitar work.

Although guitars are obviously Brent's forte, the rest of the sound is fairly professional, although there is never any question as to where the man's greatest skills lie. Brent's vocals are perhaps the most memorable aspect of Ashen Reign's sound. Although the guitar work is the most skilled element at play here, Brent McDaniel's vocals are quite peculiar for the metal style. While a 'melodic' brand of metal would usually entail a singer who appreciates typical vocal acrobatics, Brent sticks to a fairly narrow vocal range, somewhere in between singing bass, and an average mid-register. Brent's voice is nothing spectacular, and while his limited range can make the delivery sound monotonous, his strength lies in the melodies themselves. The only song that particularly stood out to me as a whole was 'The Feast', but Ashen Reign can always be counted upon to conjure powerful melodies.

Ashen Reign's music is certainly not my style, but Brent McDaniel gets my approval and acknowledgement as a talented and passionate artist. It's more than possible that the sound would have felt more balanced had a full band was there to realize Brent's vision, but as it is, 'An Angel's Burden' is a fairly impressive effort.
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