I’ll be honest, I got way too excited when this bad boy popped up in my inbox. Hearing “Kings Before You” when it was initially unveiled late last year was kind of a revelation. Sure, James Durbin was always the “rocker” when featured on American Idol but saying that on the show and actually being one are two different beasts completely…but here, with The Beast Awakens, the former Idol contestant proves his mettle with some hearty METAL that’s sure to appease purists while treating his fanbase to a revelatory romp through the land of heavy Rawk and/or Roll!
But I digress!
Taking just as much influence from Judas Priest and Iron Maiden as it does from 3 Inches Of Blood or Tenacious D at their heaviest, The Beast Awakens has a timeless quality that is a thriving celebration of all things Metal. “The Prince Of Metal” is an apt title and fitting opener with huge bass tones from Barry Sparks, galloping drum lines form Mike Vanderhule and walls of wailing guitars from Durbin and a slew of guests throughout the record accenting the singer’s incomparable voice and soaring range.
“Kings Before You” is practically legendary even without the Chris Jericho vocal assist. It’s the kind of song that just puts a smile on your face the moment it kicks in. And yes kids, you can have fun Metal songs. Kind of like Killswitch Engage’s take on “Holy Diver”, “Kings Before You” is thoroughly embedded in a world of wizards and warlords and orcs and goblins where Dio lords over all (Read even more about “Kings Before You” and the guest appearance from Phil Demmel in our single review here).
“Into The Flames” and “The Sacred Mountain” are both driving, steady stompers with gorgeous choruses showcasing a slightly less full throttle side by expanding the melody and the more intricate musical fabric to create some modern Metal breakout hits. The title track is dastardly sounding as the sick shreds are backed by Earl Salindo’s sinister synth sounds while “Necromancer” is similarly spooky sounding with a haunting vibe that’s like Dungeons & Dragons set to a soundtrack of Psychobilly.
“Riders On The Wind” is a sweeping Dio meets Maiden mash-up and later, “Calling Out For Midnight” is a riff-ready rawker that’s pure headbanging heaven. “Battle Cry” is not the Kenny Omega theme but is instead a swooping crooner that’ll get the lighters or (groan) Iphones up and then “Rise To Valhalla” packs a mean wallop as this epic six minute closer and veritable shred fest ends a truly triumphant testament tantamount to the classics.
The Beast Awakens on February 12th through Frontiers Music srl. Pre-orders are up now and can be perused and purchased when you head here. For the latest on Durbin, follow him across the socials by clicking here, here, or here.