A Sound Of Thunder - Time's Arrow

11 songs
64:40 minutes
***** ****
Mad Neptune


Earlier this year, I was quite impressed by Queen Of Hell, an EP by American west coast metal band. Designed to bridge the wait for the upcoming new album Time’s Arrow, it showed off a diverse array of genres that made me believe that they were just showing off their broad-mindedness. I couldn’t have been any more wrong, as the quartet decided to found their own label Mad Neptune as no other record company is willing to sign a band that is not willing to limit themselves to just a single genre.

A Sound Of Thunder are a very busy band, founded only in 2008 but having now released already three longplayers and two EPs. Their latest effort Time’s Arrow should now hopefully reach a larger audience despite the DIY mindset of the band members. The songs never sound the same, and yes, it takes a certain amount of open-mindedness, but if you bring that alone, you will have a great time with the generous hour of music presented here. Starting with the opener Power Play, we get one of the band’s shorter tracks that’s instantly showing how great these guys are at fast paced power metal. Vocalist Nina Oseguada, a trained opera singer, is of course the focal point of attention, but don’t worry, she’s never sounding like one of those weak-chested gothic metal divas, instead taking her inspiration from metal gods like Bruce Dickinson and Ronnie James Dio. This is followed by the album’s title track, a nearly ten minute long epic which shows the band from their most progressive side. It even takes this song over three minutes before the chorus appears first, but you won’t forget this catchy bit of music any time soon. Bass player Jesse Keen is also adding some organ parts that give the song a certain Seventies vintage hard rock touch. The limited box set edition will also contain a short story penned by drummer Chris Haren that further evolves the story behind this song.

Next up is the first single I Will Not Break, a groovy number that has a certain Eighties hard rock flair and once again is a perfect showcase for the incredibly powerful vocals. Broken Bridge is another mid-tempo rock which delights with a complex rhythm section and splendid guitar work. I wonder how guitarist Josh Schwartz is delivering all these different guitar parts in a live setting. The same of course counts for vocalist Nina who often does layered vocals to give her voice even more volume and gravitas. Things speed up with Queen Of Hell from the preceding EP, a more traditional power speed metal song and one of the band’s best moments ever. Who wants to go to heaven if this is what hell sounds like? Let’s Start A Fire is with three minutes the band’s shortest piece. Normally their songs average six minutes, but they also rather excel at shorter structures. Even if this isn’t one of their more complex moments, it’s still good fun. I’ll Walk With You is inspired by The Walking Dead, both the comics and the TV series. I admit that I am unfamiliar with the former and never really got into the latter, but this song is really great, starting as a semi-ballad, with acoustic guitar parts and incredibly arranged vocal parts, reminding me eventually of some of the stuff Metal Church used to do. On My Disease, the band was able to get former Iron Maiden vocalist Blaze Bailey to sing a duet with Nina, and of course this works too by being a darker themed track.

Wastelands is once again a more classical heavy metal track, and then it’s time for the last two tracks on which the band is really letting it all out. End Of The Road is actually a bluesy hard rock song that I wouldn’t have expected after what preceded, and still it works. The song ends with a faster part to prevent this six minute piece from becoming repetitive. The concluding Reign Of The Hawklords is of course a tribute to Hawkwind. Its lyrics mostly consist of Hawkwind song titles, and the monophonous vintage synth effects and the grumbling bass guitar, including the mandatory solo, also do their best to re-enact the spirit of the masters of psychedelic rock. The vinyl edition contains this track with added parts by Hawkwind founding member Nik Turner, which should make for an interesting listening experience. Maybe I would have preferred to have A Sound Of Thunder cover one of Hawkwind’s classic songs, but this is also quite nice.

I took quite some time listening to Time’s Arrow, an album which is probably not so easy to review. It will take some attention to unlock all of its secrets and charms, but I am convinced that every open-minded hard rock and heavy metal fan will be amazed by the stylistic variety of this band. Not only are they able to use all kinds of different ingredients, but the band is also able to concoct it into cohesive songwriting. Let’s hope that A Sound Of Thunder will get all the success they deserve with this daring effort.

Back to Reviews