Millennial Reign – Carry the Fire (Ulterium Records)Sunday, 18th October 2015
Originating as a solo project for Aska bassist Dave Harvey in 2010, over the course of five years Millennial Reign has morphed into a full-fledged band, as Carry the Fire is the second record and first with Swedish melodic power/progressive metal upstart Ulterium Records. Whereas Dave juggled multiple instrument/writing roles for the self-titled 2012 debut, the band is now a quintet – including a new vocalist in James Guest as well as drummer Wayne Stokley, bassist Daniel Almagro, and guitarist Jason Donnelly.
This Texas unit live for a melodic power metal sound that originates from a late 80’s framework domestically, containing a hefty amount of air simulation moments in the axe and drumming departments. It would be fair to say after taking in the mid-tempo double bass churning “Way Up High” and clean to steady chord/riff combinations within “This Day” that Millennial Reign champion artists like Crimson Glory and Queensrÿche (EP to first three albums) as solid influences. Subtle use of keyboards in numbers like the exotic-tinged “Innocent Cry” and “Save Me” never deters from the Harvey/Donnelly twin guitar harmonies and thick power chords the duo strike up, complementing each other brilliantly and giving individual space and opportunity for shining.
James Guest is Millennial Reign’s ace in a stacked deck of professional players. Careful to use all facets of his multi-octave range, the man can replicate almost a best of Roy Khan, Midnight, and Geoff Tate. Clear in enunciation he strides confidently in the rarified upper bird call echelon right out of the gates during the verses of “Forever Changed” or the more conventional/commercial anthem “Not On My Own” where his playfulness during the bridge gives him more of a personal edge. Add in their positive/Christian oriented lyrical outlook (not overtly Stryper, more like Believer/Barren Cross) and lively tones/production values and you have a solid product that should gain the band proper attention.
Now that Queensrÿche is back onto their established path, maybe a resurgence of US melodic power metal can take off. If so, put Carry the Fire at the front of the line.