I first learned about A SOUND OF THUNDER when I was reading about a duet between Veronica Freeman and Nina Osegueda, ASoT’s vocalist. They worked together on BENEDICTUM’S Obey album, on a great song called “Thornz,” so I picked up Time’s Arrow and became an instant fan. Sometimes that’s the coolest thing; you buy an album having not heard a single song and you are instantly rewarded with what comes out of your speakers, which was certainly the case with ASoT. So now here we are and the band is getting ready to unleash The Lesser Key of Solomon upon us (September 9 via Mad Neptune Records). This record seems to be a pretty big hot button for debates/arguments judging by what I’ve seen online. Granted, I never take much stock in that sort of nonsense, but it seems that people either really love this band, or waste their time saying some vile and hateful things; I just don’t get it, especially when I see some of the garbage that gets signed and becomes successful in 2014.
With that said let’s have a look at the album, shall we? Produced by Kevin ‘131’ Gutierrez The Lesser Key of Solomon is a collection of heavy riffs and songs that tell a story, not waste time with clichés. There is a complexity in the songwriting without sacrificing the catchiness that makes it all memorable. The best example of this is opener “Udoroth” which has been popping into my head at random times just about every day since the record showed up at my door. Then you have something like “Elijah” a nine-minute and change piece that is heartwarming one minute, dark and scary the next, guitarist Josh Schwartz, bassist Jesse Keen, and drummer Chris Haren all wrapping themselves up in Osegueda’s powerhouse delivery. Echoes of DIO resonate throughout “Master of Pain” not surprisingly one of my favorites and on “The Boy Who Could Fly”…well, beautiful simply doesn’t do it justice, particularly when Schwartz lets “Fly” with one of the richest, most melodic solos on the disc.
The grand majesty of “Fortuneteller” was not lost on me either. This is another dark and atmospheric piece which finds everyone firing on all cylinders for nearly seven minutes. Once inside you’ll really find yourself wondering what the hell happens next with each passing moment. “Blood From the Mummy’s Tomb” is a slow, deliberate number at first but when it erupts it spills molten lava over everything in its path and was another instant standout. Longer songs seem to be the order of the day on Lesser, as this tune clocks in at 8:28. By no means is this a complaint. I truly love the way each one takes its time to develop the story while at the same time staying true to the in-your-face aspects of Heavy Fucking Metal!! This is especially true of the guitar sound on “Black Secrets” and “One Empty Grave” coupled with some off-the-charts soloing once again by Mr. Schwartz.
Closing things out is “House of Bones” sounding not unlike something that FATES WARNING’S Matheos/Aresti duo would come up with so NATURALLY it had my undivided attention. It becomes even thicker shortly after the three-minute mark and rages on until the very end. This is without a doubt the most ambitious song on Lesser and quite possibly of the band’s career. More bands should take chances and get the hell out of their comfort zones. I have zero bad things to say about this record, and much like its masterpiece of a predecessor I think this is one that will be on many year-end Top 10 Lists. A SOUND OF THUNDER have constructed a winner, ladies and gentlemen, and not owning this LP is downright criminal.
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM