Reverence – Gods of War (Razar Ice Records)Sunday, 13th December 2015
Reverence’s 2012 When Darkness Calls was one of those entirely rare finds in the veteran power/melodic metal field. Generally, such coming-togethers of gents who have spent time in high (or low) profile are hackneyed, tired endeavors, proving the time-honored idea that band chemistry cannot be overlooked. In the case of Reverence (who feature members who have done time in Savatage, Riot, Jack Starr’s Burning Starr and Tokyo Blade), it proved to be the opposite – When Darkness Calls was a classy, well-rounded affair that laid out a succession of daunting melo-metal charmers. So here comes the ‘ole sophomore effort, Gods of War, which while not as formidable as its predecessor, finds Reverence still doing all of the right things.
One will need to work around some of the played-out lyrical concepts doled out by the band. Those who have spent considerable time bopping around the melodic metal field have heard such themes many times (i.e. “Gods of War,” “Angel in Black,” “Battle Cry”), but the vocals of Todd Michael Hall is reason enough to keep coming back. His snappy, biting diction, along with his sure-fire 80s bravado provides many welcome moments, in particular on the hard-driving “Heart of Gold” and the Euro-ready “Tear Down the Mountain.” It’s easy to see why he was tabbed by bands like Riot and Jack Starr’s Burning Starr – he’s one of the better classic metal singers on the American circuit, no two ways about it.
Gods of War roots itself in the stout, 4/4, song-first arena its members are so prone to, which may not work well for flexibility’s sake, yet it’s a calling card worth pursuing. Thus, the vintage, twin-guitar dominated rustle of “Choices Made,” or “Race to Obscene” show that Reverence couldn’t more un-hip, but that’s the great thing about them – we need more bands with such a stubborn angle. Gods of War is a winner.