Thursday, November 12, 2009


Jacob’s Dream comes out of the American Plains and they bring with them a brand of powerful heavy metal. They remind this reviewer of Judas Priest, Queensryche, Armored Saint and perhaps Fates Warning. Elements of progressive metal seep in to this mixture as well, but the final results are strong and memorable.

The first thing that caught me is that ‘Beneath the Shadows’ is that it's a concept album. The story of a fall from grace that results in one mans loss of family, prestige, self respect and an open search for the Lord at the end of his rope. Great effort and painstaking thought went into the concept and the execution of it.

Even in a concept effort, the music is foremost to me. After all if the songs don’t jell or are hit and miss, I won’t really care what the concept is. In this case however the songs are strong and commanding. ‘Minds Will Burn’, ‘Illusive Dream’ and the title track light up the musical landscape with authority. I must admit however upon hearing the opening track and video for ‘Welcome to My World’ I was suspect a bit. I can happily report that this song is now another favorite from this release.

I’ve never heard Jacob’s Dream before and haven’t had the privilege of partaking in any of their other releases. That said it doesn’t really matter, ‘Beneath the Shadows’ is a fabulous slab of metal music. Yes at times the vocals of Chaz Bond does remind one of Geoff Tate, but doesn’t everyone at one time or another? It’s not a detriment at all. John Berry and Jon Noble's (no not the actor from FRINGE) twin guitar attack is well played and demands one’s attention. James Evans (bass) and Gary Holtzman (drums) administer a heavy duty rhythm section.

There are moments of acoustic reflection, which remind me of very early Queensryche. The feel and the atmosphere strike the same chord to me. The emotion is powerful, ‘Reborn in Fire’ and ‘The Darkest Hour’ drip of desperation. A smoke filled room.

The closing song ‘The Blessing and The Curse’ is an excellent piece of fast, demanding metal that closes this disc on a moment of reflection by the main character (not to mention a splitting guitar solo!) where he says in retrospect “I was looking for a high/Never knowing the reason why/After all that I’d become/I watched my world die/The loss of the ones I loved the most/I watched them go out one by one/It’s a price I DIDN’T HAVE TO PAY/ But I paved my own way/I believe in your power/I believe in your power/Because I’ve been set free….”

A strong lyrical commentary on many of us who thought we could do it ourselves.

I suppose the one thing that I wish could be changed is the amount of reverb in the production. At times the drums get lost (to my ears) where you can’t actually hear their natural tonality. This is simply a small criticism which doesn’t impede my enjoyment or recommendation for this disc.

Retroactive Records does it again, another strong release and recommendation.

8 axes…. PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket

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