THE WORLD WILL BURN - SEVERITY (CD, 2016)
Dale Thompson Bride Xian Metal!
If you're having a sense of dŽjˆ vu while contemplating The World Will Burn and its independently released January of 2016 full-length debut Severity it's for good reason. The World Will Burn is the new band of Dale Thompson, front man of iconic Christian metal and hard rock veterans Bride, whom have14 studio albums, 7 live albums and 9 compilations to its credit since forming in the mid-eighties. Last we heard from Bride was 2013 and its swan song effort Incorruptible, an album that (per the 85% Angelic Warlord review) continued the hard rock throwback trend the group started with This Is It (from 2003) but this time drawing heavily from the bluesy sentiments of Kinetic Faith (1991) but interspersed with acoustic moments akin to Drop (1995).?
Since the release of Incorruptible, Thompson has experienced significant change in the form of moving to New Zealand, remarrying and joining forces with United States based multi-instrumentalist Alan Zaring to form The World Will Burn. But it is change for the good in that the recent past has seen Thompson and Zaring working remotely to create music that ?transcends culture, language, and genres while focusing on emotion and passion rather than commercial success? (as taken from The World Will Burn press material). Specifically, The World Will Burn will further change the way you look at hard rock music: New, fresh sounds combined with classic influences and thoughtful lyrics; power merged with grace; explosiveness married to innocence; rage fused with compassion.
What I hear on Severity is an expansive and rumbling modern to grungy to straightforward hard rock sound reminiscent to Bride's 1997 release The Jesus Experience. Do not be daunted, however, in that Severity proves relevant musically from staying true to the hard rock side of things - the album surprises in terms of overall heaviness! - while not emphasizing the modern to a fault. Consider, for instance, how The World Will Burn avoids the vocal trappings that often turn many away from modern music: no rap or screamed or core or extreme vocals but rather Thompson's trademark raspy and gritty blues influenced flavorings. His Severity performance reflects that not only has he not lost anything vocally over the years but that he comes across more powerful than ever with some of the heaviest vocals he has recorded to date.
It would be equally accurate to say that any album to include Thompson is going to feature its moments that hearken back to Bride's classic blues based hard rock sound. Severity proves no exception, with an underlining feel that hints of turn of century Bride albums such as the aforementioned Incorruptible and This Is It while occasionally hearkening back to earlier efforts Kinetic Faith and Scarecrow Messiah. The point being that Bride fans will not feel alienated here, which is testament to Zaring's abilities, who laces Severity with identifiable rhythm guitar statements that range from catchy to the driven to the at times outside the box experimental. Despite the modern slant, Severity does not disappoint from a lead guitar standpoint, with the soloing of guest guitarist Tim Bushong (LoveWar) staying true to the framework of the song and not that far removed from what fans are used to from founding Bride guitarist and brother Troy Thompson (who plays the solo and cello on ?Innocent Dream?).
Opener "Absolute Power" best embodies The World Will Burn modern meets hard rock sound. The song starts to ethereal distortion prior to animated guitars taking hold, establishing a plummeting milieu moving ahead as imperative verses trade off with the "absolute power corrupts absolutely" refrain. Brand New Song plods and plunges decisively, guttural at times with its forceful presence (Thompson cuts loose with some screams that are otherworldly) but also every bit palatial and stately (chorus almost reflects an anthem like feel). The perseverant bass line brings to mind "The Worm" off The Jesus Experience.
"Mad Man" also gives rise to a modern feel. The song starts delicately prior to picking up impetus, delivering a ton of catchy (if not accessible) groove its remaining distance while also making the albums most pronounced faith based statement: "There's one answer, there's one hope- the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost". Upping the modern heaviness further is "The Dying Me", a straight on and no frills rocker with a churning low end and slowly (and very emotionally done) lead guitar work, and "No One Want To Die", also giving rise to an inviting bare bones presence with its front to back freight train impetus and bounding guitar riffs.
"You See Me Coming" takes Severity in a darker and moodier direction in flirting with all out metal territory. Vocally, Thompson aligns with the remorseless (if not borderline extreme) setting in lending one of the most powerful performances we have heard from him in some time. "Torment" takes every bit the caustic tone, angst laden with its acrid guitar mentality but also melodic from the occasional passage that lightens to an inviting craw. Zaring handles lead guitar on this one and cuts loose with albums best stretch of bluesy soloing.
"The More Things Change" takes a straight on hard rock heading. Steadfast and dogged, the song churns as pulsating Rez Band style guitar riffs prevail its length in what amounts an assertive as it gets mid-paced setting. "Why", in contrast, maintains the hard rock elements but in the more upbeat package. Upheld are similar levels of heaviness, with guitars making a crashing statement and rhythm section hitting like a ton of bricks. The commonality shared by the two is highlighting Bushong's gritty lead guitar work.
"Place In The Sun" also proves up-tempo in giving rise to a mirthful and rollicking feel not unlike Kinetic Faith tracks "Young Love" and "Ever Fall In Love". Hooks are non-stop and energy infectious in making by far the albums most commercial statement. Place "Dream The Dream" alongside another old Bride cut, "Think About Our Future" from Lost Reels 1, and you will also hear a noticeable similarity in terms of melody. Accept this as neutral observation in that "Think About Our Future" is a very fine song in which to invite comparison (Bride's Lost Reels material is quite underrated!).
Severity shines when The World Will Burn steps outside the box, such as on "Burning Sunset Glow". My favorite of the albums tracks comes across eerie and portent with atmospheric U2-ish guitars interwoven with traditional hard rock guitars and a distinct bass line (albums clean production stands out prominently here). All the while, what sounds like a news broadcast of an individual exploring a missile silo plays in the backdrop.
Likewise, "Innocent Dream" throws a bit of a curveball with its improvisational spoken word flair (I am somewhat reminded of Jerusalem's "Berlin 36" off its 1994 release Prophet). Albums longest at six minutes and lightest in terms of guitars, the song is lyrically written by Thompson, who talks about his two sons that served in the military and how (in his words) "(they left) home and me not seeing them for such a long time and when they returned they were not the little boys I sent out." The World Will Burn makes its most emotional and poignant statement in the process.
One aspect to The World Will Burn that I most appreciate is how it brings a much-needed change of pace to the current hard music scene. Over the past year, I have consumed a steady diet of metal - symphonic, progressive, power and eighties influenced melodic - and while I enjoy said genres as much as anyone, the modern meets hard rock sentiments to The World Will Burn delight from exploring musical territory that fans of today's musical environment are not often exposed.
Leaving an equal impression is that Zaring must have spent significant time listening to old Bride records prior to starting the Severity songwriting, noting how I would have done no different if given the privilege of composing material in which Thompson would perform. With repeat play the Severity songs come across "made to fit" for Thompson's distinct vocals, or at the very least a musical environs was created in which he feels comfortable and at ease performing. Enough variety, at the same time, presents itself in the albums songwriting to prevent things from becoming trite with repeat play. Yes, 13 songs can be a lot to digest but none is skip-worthy or falls within filler territory. All in all, if a fan of Bride or enjoy any type of modern music with a hard rock slant then by all means check out The World Will Burn.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: Absolute Power (4:01), The More Things Change 3:02), Brand New Song (3:23), Mad Man (3:58), The Me Dying (4:13), Dream The Dream 93:51), No One Wants To Die (5:04), Burning Sunset Glow (5:05), Place In The Sun (3:45), You See Me Coming (3:05), Why (3:04), Torment (4:48), Innocent Dream (5:59)
Dale Thompson - Lead Vocals
Alan Zaring - All Instrumentation
Tim Bushong - Guitars
Troy Thompson - Guitars & Cello