Reverence – When Darkness Calls (Razar Ice Records)

Tuesday, 26th March 2013
Rating: 8/10

The obvious sonic limitations and ceiling that vintage melodic metal presents itself with usually spells mediocrity. The bands who fancy this still are often too wrapped up in the time capsule they’re so fond of, which is understandable – a lot of us pine for the Golden Age of Metal. And most of the time, a lot of us stuck-up, snobby metal journos will take a look at a band and already have it figured out. Suffice it to say, Detroit’s Reverence warrant a bit more than a pre-determined opinion on their When Darkness Calls debut.

The inclusion former Savatage drummer Steve “Doc Killdrums” Wacholz should have been the first sign of respectability, even though his former ‘Tage mate Jon Oliva hasn’t exactly set the world on fire with his solo career. Nevertheless, the ace in the hole for Reverence is singer Todd Michael Hall, who recently has hooked up with Jack Starr’s Burning Starr. Hall is so effective because he’s not flamboyant; rather, he’s a great role player when he has to be, laying on the range for “Bleed for Me,” and attitude for “Devil in Disguise.” His best moment comes in the form of “Monster,” where the band’s melodic jabs become full blows, resulting in a stellar Crimson Glory/Warning-era Queensryche hybrid.

Across the board, Reverence keeps the smart songwriting choices coming. Whether it’s on the up-tempo, but not thrashy title track, or the steely groove of “The Price You Pay,” the band speaks essentially the perfect language to the classic metal gang. It would be virtually impossible for them not to get behind the aforementioned songs, as well as Hall’s magnanimous voice.

When Darkness Calls eschewed the regular tedium that comes with vintage melodic metal, turning this 11-song outing into a magnetic and thoroughly pleasing jaunt through time. There’s a lot of cheap imitators mucking it up, but Reverence are the real deal. Wonder if they’d be down with being pegged as “Motor City Madmen.” Nugent might get jealous.

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