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Conflicted - "Never Be Tamed" (CD)

Conflicted - "Never Be Tamed" CD cover image

"Never Be Tamed" track listing:

1. After Too Long
2. Never Be Tamed
3. Victor(ia)
4. Fallen
5. The Hand of God
6. Stay
7. Heat Me Up
8. I Wish. I Remember.
9. Alive
10. Torment
11. Release

Reviewed by on August 2, 2011

"This band obviously knows what's fun (and funny) about metal."

Remember that time when you told your friend at a party that you thought it'd be cool if some metal supergroup was formed? With Casey Grillo and Thomas Youngblood from Kamelot on drums and guitar, joined by Yngwie Malmsteen on lead guitars and Manowar's Eric Adams on vocals? Let's be honest, you probably don't remember because you were drunk. However, that band sort of really does exist, stylistically. That group is Canada's "Conflicted," and the first album is going to be fun if you thought that dream team lineup would sound cool. Oh, and add in some Symphony X influence.

What we have here is an unorthodox blend of styles including the musical leaning of Kamelot with lead guitar parts in a neo-classical shred style played by Mark Owen, and dominated by four octaves of Jason Orton with a lot of Manowar influence. Drummer Corey Stoll and bassist John Kolodziej hammer down the rhythm section while keyboardist Ron De Coste does his thing. It's a tongue-in-cheek combination, but one that celebrates the fun side of heavy metal. Who needs to be on pitch when you can grab your balls and give a big falsetto shriek?

"After Too Long," an instrumental with wailing guitars and pulsating keyboards, leads into the title track, "Never Be Tamed." While the drums tend to fall under the other instruments in the mix, the track maintains a Kamelot-meets-Symphony-X vibe while Jason Orton throws in some vocal antics, alternating between regular singing, power metal wails, and spoken word exclamations a la Manowar. "Victor(ia)" opens up with more vocal antics and a lightning-fast guitar part, opening up into a King Diamond-esque classic feel. The guitars quickly go over the top, duking it out in a solo battle with a very classic synthesizer.

The album sounds as if it was recorded in the 80s, although it's a modern recording. There's a very cool part where Orton's vocals get panned left-right-left-right-left in keeping with the rhythm in "Victor(ia.)" "Fallen" and "The Hand of God" is where you really begin to sense the Kamelot influence. In fact, I'm almost convinced they lifted a few riffs from the band. Nevertheless, tracks like "Stay," with its mellotrons and intricate bass parts, make up for the frequent near rip-offs. The guitar playing isn't always clean, but it is fast and technical. The vocals aren't always on pitch, but they're furious.

Thankfully, the band doesn't just kneel to the gods of metal and pray – the band is actually good at highlighting the fun parts of classic and modern metal. Not to mention, Jason Orton could pursue a vocal acting career if he really wanted to. There's even a part on "The Hand of God" where he sneers in his best Dave Mustaine voice, "You're burning in hell allllreadyyyy!" Another great track is "Torment," with its straight-ahead thrash leading into galloping rhythms. This band obviously knows what's fun (and funny) about metal.

Highs: Guitar/keyboard solos everywhere, over-the-top fun power/thrash metal vocals

Lows: Vocals are pitchy, and the band lacks true originality

Bottom line: A grab bag of styles mixed in with a classic feel for a tongue-in-cheek thrash/power metal combination.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)