Visions Of The Seeker
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Right, here's a band whose 2010 release slipped more or less under my radar. Though because of all the quality metal coming out last year, and given that Angband hail all the way from Iran (needless to say, not your typical country for metal of this variety), I don't think you could fault anyone for not hearing this. With a Tolkien-inspired name, you might think that Visions Of The Seeker is going to be another lame interpretation of the great man's work. However, Angband takes only its name from Mr. Tolkien (at least, as far as I can tell), and certainly precious little of his talent.
I was really hoping that this album would be a great one, and therefore be a bona fide "diamond in the rough". Unfortunately, Angband is destined to remain a very faint blip on the radar for most of us, unless of course you're the sort of person that gets aggravated by poor power metal. This is unfortunately quite dull, and at times it descends rather decidedly into the dark depths that lie beneath mediocrity. The first real track, "Blind Anger", isn't bad, but it remains constantly without a real melody. The drums and rhythm guitar consistently pound out a bland and uniform background (save for a bit of interesting alternative percussive work here and there by a non-traditional metal instrument) until the song ends rather abruptly. The vocals on this track remind me almost of melodic sobs, which is strange to say the least. The supporting background vocals are of a high, slightly piercing quality, and remind me of kittens mewling at times. Not a pleasant combination. Even the solo section is just boring.
The second tune is where we are treated to the real meat of the album. At this point, the music is quite awful. Harsh vocals which might sound despairing and potent in some setting are just awkward and laughable when combined with the "sobbing" sound of the lead vocals that I've already described. From this point forward, the instrumentation moves back and forth from a dull pounding to a chaotic mess that doesn't contain a redeeming solo or lead to save the album's life. We've all heard some bad power metal, but this is as bad as it gets. I don't know if the band's sense of tonality is just so far removed from my own that I'm unable to appreciate it, or if it's really just completely melodically nonsensical.
Something else worth mentioning here is the timbre of the distortion. On most of the tracks, it's a low-fi quality that, were it much fuzzier, could be mistaken for raw black metal. I'm sure that this is due to the low quality of available recording equipment in the band's home country. This lends the album a very harsh flavor that is not pleasant to those of us who are used to and seeking garden-variety power metal. Certainly, there's no claim of Visions Of The Seeker fitting perfectly into the genre's mold, but I don't think many at all will find this a pleasant listen.
Angband's formula might be more bearable if it were a bit more brief, but these songs drag on and on sometimes, plodding along at a tempo that feels slower than it actually is due to the lack of inventiveness in the guitar lines. Despite an occasional interesting spot (the interlude in "Easy To Believe", or one of the brief glimpses of indigenous percussion), the band generally meanders back and forth between complete dullness and actively offending my hearing. Ultimately, this album ought to remain where it came from. If this is the sort of music that Angband and their metal-starved friends in Iran love, so be it, but I want nothing to do with it. I can't in good faith recommend this to anyone, but there is a lesson to be learned here in what to avoid. Visions Of The Seeker is worth hearing just a little of, if only to discover a side of metal that is better left untouched.
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The Protagonist's Rating: 2.0 out of 10