Thursday, 23 October 2014

Heavy Thursday: A Sound Of Thunder

Sometimes life gives you a break, and sometimes life is just one long, dark Thursday of the soul. I've been a bit sporadic with my Thursday offerings of late due to one thing or another, but with renewed vigour I set out once again to showcase a band I quite like listening to. A noble cause indeed.

Every since discovering their recent release of The Lesser Key Of Solomon I've been quite taken with A Sound Of Thunder. Combining traditional, NWOBHM and power metal sounds with some distinctly proggy sensibilities, they produce a distinct, yet familiar, sound. But style and sensibilities are nothing without good songwriting, which they seem to have in spades.

But let us take a step back in time to look at how A Sound Of Thunder came to be. Way back to their early days, back to ... 2008? Yes, this is a band who have only been around for six years. They've been pretty prolific though, as we shall see.

A Sound Of Thunder were formed in 2008 by guitarist Josh Schwartz and drummer Chris Haren. Over the next few months and into 2009 they switched the lineup around until settling on singer Nina Osegueda on vocals. With Christ Willet on bass, this formed the first line-up of ASOT and it is with this line-up that they recorded their debut self-titled EP. The band each brought their own influences, style and twist to proceedings, giving birth to A Sound Of Thunder's eclectic mix of inspiration.

 After getting through a few more bassists and a charity single in the form of Justice At Last, the band settled on Ben Washburn to form the line-up for their debut album, Metal Renaissance. In order to capture an analogue aesthetic they recorded the album on magnetic tape to great effect.

Perhaps the most striking things about A Sound Of Thunder are the shear range of old school metal influences, the wildly varying styles and the strident, versatile vocal range of Nina Osegueda. Boasting a tremendous range of styles as well as the power to back it up, the combination of heavy, proggy, soft and explosive moments is powered through in a manner Dio or Rob Halford would be proud of.

Things started looking up for A Sound Of Thunder with sophomore album Out of the Darkness. An influx of interest from the metal world meant that, with mere days until release, Nightmare Records stepped in and signed the band. John Callagher, vocalist from heavy metal legends Raven, featured on this album, and with label backing the publicity sky-rocketed. This led to the production of two music videos; Murderous Horde, featuring Chubby the Burmese python, and then Kill That Bitch.

With the second album proving even more popular than the first, and with a whole slew of exciting new sounds and influences to play with including Blue Öyster Cult and Alice Cooper to add a bit of 70s flair and over-the-top theatrics to proceedings, A Sound Of Thunder plowed on into 2013 with a Kickstarter campaign to fund their third album. It ended up doing so well that it funded an EP, Queen Of Hell, as well as album number three, Time's Arrow.

Queen Of Hell featured the rather violent number Hello Nurse, a Nina special complete with violence and gore. As discussed in an interview with Pure Rawk, you can tell the Nina track on an album; it's the one involving chopping people to bits. The rest of the proceedings are generally sensible, based on various tales or legends or just inspired by what interests the band. They each pull in their favourite riffs, twiddles and noodling of the day and create an endlessly shifting patchwork of styles that means no two tracks ever run together or sound too samey.

As well as another video, Time's Arrow also ended up with a song feature ex-Iron Maiden vocalist Blaze Bailey as guest vocalist. The video for I'll Walk With You is an interesting concept; it deals with the emotions involved in realising your soulmate has been infected in a zombie outbreak and you're going to have to kill them. At the same time whimsical and fantastical, and yet emotionally powerful. A very tricky combo to pull off!

Album number four came round in 2014, maintaining the impressive one-album-per-year pace. Again funded by a Kickstarter campaign, this time it brought in a whopping $23k. Released so recently that we only just put out a new release post about it, The Lesser Key Of Solomon sees A Sound Of Thunder take, in my opinion, a proggier direction with a great deal of very satisfying riffs and even guitar solos.

All except, perhaps, the second track; Udoroth, complete with animated video.

With the post-release rush still going on, A Sound Of Thunder are likely to remain busy for a while yet. Although I've not seen anything in particular, I'm sure there will be some touring in the not too distant future. Here's hoping the UK is one of the destinations!

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Originally posted on Femetalism by Craig Andrews.