Without Warning – Burning Skies (Self-Released)

Tuesday, 15th August 2017
Rating: 9/10

Arriving on the Boston scene in 2013, Without Warning is a four-piece outfit that bridge the gap between old school, traditional metal riffing, harmonies, and vocal melodies with slight modern takes on grooves, choruses, etc. to keep their sound very much up to date. Burning Skies is their debut EP, consisting of five original songs plus their take on the Piece of Mind classic “The Trooper” by Iron Maiden – and a very catchy product on all fronts that should impress various factions of the underground (and above) heavy music community.

Guitarists Keith Conway and Darryl Santana fill out the rhythms and lead work tastefully, increasing the anticipation factor with their skilled axe maneuvers and proper twin harmonization aspect – crossing the gap between Maiden, Priest, and say Alter Bridge on the highly engaging “Decay”. When the band choose to ride in slightly commercial textures, the combinations can be just as alluring – the driving riffs and groove-enhanced transitions for “Darkness” will make people think of everything from Ozzy during his Jake E. Lee 80’s period to even slight hints of Killswitch Engage. Bassist Ian Raposa and drummer Nate Levins as the backbone of the quartet know their roles in keeping the foundation firm and clicking – varying the tempos as appropriate, keeping things slightly semi-ballad for the emotionally diverse “When I Am Gone” where the accents can be a little more progressive to encourage guitar/vocal highlights of a higher register.

Ian handles the main vocals, and he has an incredible voice that bridges everything from classic arena aspects to modern rock and heavy metal – it’s obvious that he’s put serious work into his pipes, noticeable from the heads down, chugging opening title cut all the way through to hitting those Dickinson-quick verses and high chorus in “The Trooper”. Darryl’s background supplementation allows for twin vocal harmony action that further cements the choruses into the brain. And the slight modification for “The Trooper” in terms of the half step groove transition near the end of the arrangement plus injecting a fresh lead break take while not forsaking the twin spider web harmony lick that makes this a classic works for Without Warning – possibly turning some younger folks onto Maiden’s ways that may otherwise turn away from the British veterans.

Proper production values and mastering (Bob St. John of Extreme/Duran Duran fame handling the latter) top off quite the first statement for the band. And trust me- this sounds just as strong live (where this scribe initially left impressed, latest guitarist Wes Parker taking over for the departed Keith). Burning Skies keeps the New England melodic metal/hard rock scene abuzz.

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