Bakken: Death of a Hero

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Bakken: Death of a Hero
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Bakken: Death of a Hero
Heavy Metal, Power Metal
Self-release
August 16th, 2012
Release length: 43:47
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Picture (if you dare) Metallica and Megadeth somehow swapped their DNA during a tour through Ireland. Imagine that DNA led to the birth of four vintage crazed, highly talented musicians that all came together by the power of Metal to form their first ever band in 2011, then heading into the studio in 2012, about a year after coming together. This leads to a highly praised debut full-length album, Death of a Hero. While some of this story is pretty much physically impossible, that basically sums up what you get with the highly promising group Bakken. But, does this album mesh these ideas together well, or is this just a cluster of uninspiring cuts pf traditional Heavy Metal, Power Metal, and Thrash Metal hero worship?

Death of a Hero just gets the audio right. There’s a slight eighties production value with a modern veneer to it, which accentuates everything just right. The guitars have a decent amount of distortion to them that sticks to a mid-range pitch, but also has some clean riffs in the lead that seem slightly echoed, perhaps from some layering. The bass is rich and not too deep, being the perfect compliment to the the riffs to give the lighter songs an upbeat rhythm, and the dark songs a nice groove at their slower paces. The drumming features crisp cymbals that are a little lower than the tight, echoing snares and deep, lower volume click of the bass kicks that just add more to the overall impact. Every instrument on this album sounds thick and powerful, though there are the very rare times the guitars can be a bit thin during softer, uplifting songs or passages. Finally, you have the mixture of rougher and cleaner vocal styles. There is some layering done, and it works to add to the richness when it is used, otherwise they can sound a little weaker compared to everything else, and also end up a bit off pitch here and there. Combine this audio with incredibly infectious music, and you have an album as infectious as a new STD.

There are eight tracks available here, and each one tries to offer something unique from one another, but for the most part retain a similar level of energy. “Mystic Mogul” is a bit radio friendly by today’s standards, but in no way is that a bad thing here. The music is really heavy, catchy as hell, and offers an infectious chorus with some extra harmonization that is pleasing to the ears. The pace slows down to show off the bass and drums, slowly building back up with a hint of tension that acts as a call to arms before an the impressive guitar signals the explosion clearly meant for the mosh pit. “Sasquatch” is another song as fun as “Mystic Mogul,” but not quite as light. This one has a little more technicality to it, and a harder presence. The bass really accentuates the rhythm of the song in a very commanding manner, an attitude that grows during the solos two-thirds of the way in that not only close the track, but also bring in a little beauty, reaching surprisingly epic levels.

“Back to the Future” exchanges that sense of dystopia with a more upbeat NWOBHM style track. While the slower verses with impressive clean singing can be a bit thin, this is still a vibrantly rich and active song full of hooks and energy. It is a bit out of place, but in no way does it hurt the flow of the album, and ends up being the most impressive track next to “Darkest Day,” which is a surprisingly long track. This mostly due to milking some of the extended build ups to certain passages, but never does it feel dull or like filler thanks to how well it seems to constantly shift, keeping things fresh while still maintaining a consistant sound and atmosphere. The chorus differs the most though. It’s a faster, more majestic approach similar to Power Metal bands like Stratovarius, but feature enthusiastic clean singing that is very suiting, though a bit off key. This is the only glimmer of hope amid a very dark song, repressive atmosphere, especially prior to another fantastic guitar solo.

Death of a Hero is easily one of the most awe-inspiring, as well as memorable demos you’ll come across in recent years, and for very good reason. Not only has Bakken only existed two years, maybe less, they slso have a tight sound that has a very distinct goal, showing a band that worked their asses off to achieve what many legends of past and recent eras have spent years articulating and maturing into. It’s damn near impossible to not bang your head along to each and every song without ever being bored or finding the album getting repetitive. Aside some very rare off-key vocals, Bakken easily destroys all your expectations of modern bands playing vintage Metal with just one spin through. If you’re a fan of eighties era Metal and sick of the direction legends in the field have been taking, then this is the album you have been waiting for, and the digital version won’t even cost you a penny on the band’s Bandcamp page.

01. Mystic Mogul – 4:35
02. Darkest Day – 8:22
03. The Cursed – 3:12
04. Sasquatch – 5:28
05. Back to the Future – 4:47
06. Get Back to Your Feet – 5:54
07. Fortress of Evil – 3:46
08. Voyage of Aodh – 7:43
Initial Pressing Score: 10/10

Bakken (band)
Bakken

Digital review copy of this release provided by Future PR.