Millennial Reign – The Great Divide (Ulterium Records)Sunday, 20th May 2018
A consistent struggle in the modern age of original metal music is the turnover of musicians due to the reality of work/family obligations. Especially for up and coming bands in the power/progressive metal realm like Millennial Reign, who after releasing 2015’s Carry the Fire lost vocalist James Guest due to the workload of his commercial construction business. Regroup they did, adding latest singer Travis Wills of Infidel Rising to the fold and hunkering down for the songwriting/recording workload that is The Great Divide. After a few spins, it’s clear that the quartet continue to push forward a melodic brand of US power metal that has its roots in the late 80’s/early 90’s scene – when names like Queensrÿche, Crimson Glory, and their offspring made a bit of a splash on the burgeoning landscape.
The framework for Millennial Reign consists of power riffs that often contain dual neoclassical/ progressive twists for the keyboards and guitars to tantalize in unison, allowing for consistent double kick and thrilling fill work from the drums – while Travis soars over the top in multi-octave upper register mechanics where he can hold out notes to the stars. Properly dispersing clean and quieter aspects for dynamic diversity makes mid-album track “In Your Silence” an easy favorite – the chorus one crowds would easily gravitate to if familiar with Rage for Order or Transcendence. Dave Harvey as guitarist and main songwriter knows how to build the foundation of an arrangement and add in those key melodic elements while still be interesting – whether a small symphonic choir, a pulsating keyboard hook, or the right riff transition, it keeps the album from reaching any sort of monotonous, overextended nature. The uplifting charge for “Behind the Time” gives way to another tranquil, introspective verse sequence as bassist Neil Bertrand takes command – the song also featuring some killer harmony note holds, “Wasted Years”/Iron Maiden-like guitar taps and falsetto work that proves Travis is the real deal as far as suiting the needs and nature for Millennial Reign.
The only minor disappointment lies in the snare/kick drum tone employed throughout – it sounds too digitally processed to diminish an obvious ability for drummer Steve Nichols as a performer (“Break the Tide” a clear example of the clickety-clack nature). Fortunately it does not derail an otherwise solid top to bottom record – Millennial Reign continuing to prove that US power metal does have its place in the global race.