Published Sep 14, 2016It's been three years since melodic metal five-piece Chariots of the Gods released their first full-length album, Tides of War. Their new album, Ages Unsung, offers a vibrant, fresh listening experience.
In a time when much of the metal landscape seems seething with either raw brutality or minimalism, and where strong entire albums seem hard to come by, Ages Unsung proves an exception. The album offers a lush sonic experience, carefully balancing impressive technical chops, detail-oriented composition and heavy riffs with emotional layers. It's captivating from start to finish, and each new listen seems to uncover intricate details that were previously missed.
The album opens with "Primordial Dawn," a brief, atmospheric instrumental with floaty piano that quickly descends into heavy, ominous guitar work before ending with a spacy ping that evokes the sound of a singularity. The intro offers a microcosmic precursor for that which follows, and right out of the gates, the production prowess of Chris Donaldson (Cryptopsy, the Agonist) is evident.
The album carries this dynamic pace throughout, embarking on a journey of contrast, balance and shifting emotional tones. Tracks like "Resurrection" and "Ages Unsung" always keep one eye on the melodic side of things. "War of the Gods" rips it up a little more, and "Tusk" is an absolute monster of a song, five minutes of galloping rhythm and soaring lead riffs halved by a terrific bridge. The song also incorporates occasional four and six note rapid-fire guitar harmonics that are so catchy they may stay with you in your sleep.
The best example of the different elements the album leverages is "Through Darkness and Decay." The song opens softly, flowing into a concise guitar solo that would feel at home on a Slash album. Lead vocalist Christian Therien really channels his inner Aaron Lewis (Staind), providing a gutsy and sincere story of rock-bottom despair, regret and helplessness around addiction. In contrast, the galloping and intense breakdown mid-song features some razor-sharp solos and savage vocal work.
If there is one constant throughout the album, it may be the attention to detail. If a song ever seems to be running the risk of becoming customary or predictable, expect something unexpected: a catchy guitar sweep, a blazing solo or pinch harmonics. Ages Unsung is laden with these moments, ensuring that the album never feels formulaic or contrived and keeping your brain firmly latched onto the listening experience. (Independent)