Bakerteam Records (2012), Self-release
October 13th, 2011 / 2012
Release length: 47:36
For an independent recording, Renewal sounds great. Clearly the band had a good budget behind them when heading into the studio. The audio sounds crisp with a digital output that accentuates the guitars with a blunt, yet higher pitched cleaner edge, especially in the leads and solos. The bass sticks out well with a little mid-range pitch to it that is loud enough to make an impact, but the hit it makes just doesn’t come through strong enough to be much more than a deeper back-up to the chords. The keyboards are kept to a minimal volume to add more of a fantastical atmosphere to the music without drowning everything else out, and much of that can be said about the drums as well. The snares are a bit lost in the mix with an echo you might not pick up on at first, but their tighter sound still works with the pulsing click of the bass kicks. The cymbals sound good as well, but, like the snares, they can be a bit lost, especially when they match the keyboard’s pitch. The vocals, however, are a bit iffy, and it’s just in the performance, not the quality. The traditional clean singing has a good amount of power that nicely reflects the edgier, more masculine sound the band plays, all the while still adding that subtle beauty to the mix. But, the problem is that you may suspect the band is using auto-tuning at times, but actually aren’t outside the introduction to “Evershine” which just has layered singing with effects over them. This is largely in the way the words are pronounced, which, while not in a tone-deaf way, can end up sounding dynamically different from one to another, though there are still times it’s hard to argue that pitch correction isn’t being blatently pushed.
This can leave Renewal with a bit of an mixed reception, but overall it doesn’t really hurt the music. Much of the album is well done, if not too original or unique. “Evershine” is a superbly catchy song with a great deal of passion in the vocals against strong and beautiful music that is rich from start to finish. There’s a good deal of enthusiasm, and you can tell the band is enjoying themselves. The keyboard solo gives things a nice Space Rock twist that is transitioned into well, and the chorus is just highly infectious with a simpler, memorable sound that will stay lodged in your head for weeks. The layered vocal introduction of the lyrics “Shine, Will we ever shine” is altered, and can be a bit misleading, but it feeds right into the typical cheesey Power Metal sound, which appears through the album in varying degrees. “Angel/Killer” drives the point home with some of the cheesiest material on the recording, but still becomes a memorable and atmospheric pleasure to listen to. The softer Hard Rock chords that make up the chorus and some bridges make this more like a ballad, and the slower piece that hits around the three and a half minute area going into a glorious, almost epic guitar solo rich with eighties glam is really moving, becoming the metaphorical icing on the cake.
Of course, there is the literal ballad track “A Chance to be Free,” which is more like a mournful track than anything. Outside the powerful chorus, the main instruments are greatly restrained to the rich and deep tones of a grand piano with some lighter keyboard notes thrown in to keep the established atmosphere alive. While not awe-inspiring, it is an interesting departure from the edgier material, and still makes for an enjoyable experience. “The Storm” is a great traditional Power Metal song. There’s nothing too unique about it, but the performance itself is tight with mixes of mid to faster paced material that still holds a good deal of energy throughout, especially the falsetto cry at the very end. The chorus is a little more simplistic, but it also manages to bring in a more upbeat atmosphere, which is surprising given the already largely feel-good vibe this album carries with each song. “Run” has that same kind of Rock tone that “Angel/Killer” has, but that’s more in the main verses in the vocals. Musically, the track is a blend of traditional Power Metal and early NWOBHM style material. This one also jumps from guitar solo to a keyboard solo and back, throwing things things from glorious to astral with some excellent transitions, all leading to a powerful conclusion to the song that will make you want to throw your fists in the air in rhythm to the beat and the vocal harmonizations.
There isn’t much to gripe about with this release, but what does exist happens after the shift between “Here We Come” and “Faith and Dreams.” The first track ends so abruptly that you’ll actually think something is up with your speakers before the full effect of a record scratched by the needle being picked up and moved become apparent. The song clearly still has a little life left, and leaves you angry they left the whole song without any sort of closure at all. The latter of the two starts off with a little excess of the record player issue butting into the start of the music, but it also finds the band’s edge almost removed. The song sounds dull and grey, not as vibrant or edgy as it has been. While a shift in atmosphere is fine, it just seems as if only part of the band was in the studio, and not all the layers were there when finalized. This also leads to some of the vocal auto-tuning issues coming back into play, though sometimes it does distinctively sound like pitch correction abuse at times more than pronunciation and the keyboards affecting them given their levels. Thankfully this doesn’t ruin the conclusion track “Where Heroes Lie.” The song brings things back to normal, painting a vibrant and somewhat upbeat track with a decent guitar solo, but a keyboard solo that sounds horrible at first, but does grow as it goes on.
While it may not be the most amazing Power Metal recording, it’s definitely an impressive debut, and a well recorded one at that. It’s unfortunate the vocals have that confusing auto-tuning issue that can leave some songs and areas a bit iffy, as well as the horrible record scratch problem towards the end, as both can really pull you out of the experience, especially the latter if you’re nicely wrapped up with the album as a whole. But, for fans of the style, this is definitely something worth checking out, and it’s obvious why Bakerteam Records picked up this once independent recording for release. Hopefully this also means the band is signed with them for a new album to drop in the near future more than the distant one. Evershine proves to be a group to keep an eye on with Renewal, and if you happen to get the chance to give it a spin, it’s definitely worth experiencing.
01. Evershine – 3:41
02. Angel/Killer – 5:12
03. Run – 3:56
04. Demon’s Ride – 4:13
05. The Storm – 6:34
06. A Chance to Be Free – 7:12
07. Here We Come – 4:10
08. Faith and Dreams – 4:49
09. Where Heroes Lie – 7:49
|Overall Score: 8.5/10
Physical review copy of this release provided by Bakerteam Records.