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Screams Of Angels - "Into The Warzone" (CD)

Screams Of Angels - "Into The Warzone" CD cover image

"Into The Warzone" track listing:

1. Anthem
2. Eyes Of The Serpent
3. Cycle Of The Moon
4. Insomnia
5. Into The Warzone
6. Idol Machines
7. The Portrait
8. Screams Of Angels
9. Sins Of The Fathers
10. The Face Of Evil
11. Goodbye

Reviewed by on February 27, 2014

"The material is neither striking nor horrible, but lies somewhere in the middle, with some very cool moments among mediocre ones and you can certainly see potential for the future."

When I think back to my time growing up as a metalhead in the 80’s, one of the most criminally underrated bands was Fifth Angel. Ironically, the band was quickly signed to a major label – Epic Records – from the debut. At the time, there was something so extraordinary about the delivery of melodic hard rock with a power metal edge. Still today, I return to the self-titled debut and “Time Will Tell” with admiration and hope that the third album written long ago will surface one day. When news of a new band Screams of Angels came, I was shocked that drummer Jeffrey McCormack (who joined Fifth Angel in 2010 and left in 2011) traded sticks for a microphone (though he did play drums on this album) fronting this new Washington based act. McCormack may not have played on the two Fifth Angel albums, but his work on Nightshade’s “Dead of Night” did not go unnoticed. In Screams of Angels, he started as the drummer, but it was his voice on the demos that thrust him into the singer role. The result is a well-rounded metal album with roots that run deep in traditional metal.

First off, the good: While McCormack isn’t going to wow anyone with a young Geoff Tate (and I stress young) like smooth to high delivery, his vocals are mid-range and serviceable to the material. There is definitely a lot of growth that needs to happen, but it is nothing that time and practice wouldn’t help. For a guy who hadn’t sung before, McCormack is decent enough and works with the material presented here. I do expect better in the future as he continues to play live, record new material, and refine his overall abilities. I do see slight faint glimpses of Ian Gillan and Tony Martin in there, but he truly needs to find his voice and come off the mid-range a lot more.

The guitar work of Rolland Fisher and Alan Nesbit is the brightest spot on “Into the Warzone.” The solos are fresh and exciting, the riffs are bold and catchy at times, and the twin harmony is a nod to Iron Maiden (see the song “Into the Warzone”). With that said, the overall material is good, but doesn’t reach out and grab the listener completely. The best of the album - “Idol Machines,” “Screams of Angels,” “The Face of Evil,” and the excellent concluding power ballad “Goodbye” - would likely have a bigger impact if they were not mired in the muck of muddy sound production, which leads me to….

The bad: production wise, this album suffers from a muddy sound. I am no sound engineer, but the bass seems a bit high in the mix, and overall “Into the Warzone” comes off more like a demo and less like a well-polished album. Take “The Face of Evil,” where the nicely played double bass drum of McCormack is barely audible. I’m actually OK with scaled down production so long as it is clear, and that seems to be the biggest drawback of the sound. I can see potential through it all, but it does hinder a listener’s ability to enjoy it.

Is the debut album “Into the Warzone” going to stun you with a new brand of metal? Probably not. What Screams of Angels present is an album of traditional metal with a tinge of power and progressive, much in the vein of Fifth Angel sans the automatic classic value. The material is neither striking nor horrible, but lies somewhere in the middle, with some very cool moments among mediocre ones and you can certainly see potential for the future. For a debut release, it places a flag in the ground for the band to build upon.

Highs: The guitar work, especially the solos, are well played and exciting.

Lows: At times the album raises slightly above mediocre and is mired by muddy production.

Bottom line: Screams of Angels roars "into the warzone," but the tanks get stuck in the mud of poor sound production.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

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)