Released way in the ass end of the year, Eternity’s End’s sophomore album, Unyielding aims to close off 2018 with a bang. (Though in most parts of the world it isn’t actually released until later in 2019.) The German based super group released their first album, The Fire Within, to glowing reviews in 2016, and has since shed bassist Linus Klausenitzer (Alkaloid) and vocalist Ian Parry (Consortium Project), as well as recruiting a second guitarist in 2017; Phil Tougas (Chthe'ilist). Odds weren’t high for Mike LePond (Symphony X, Silent Assassins) to mantle the bass guitar because he’s literally everywhere, but the role of vocalist was rather lent to less renowned figure; namely Iuri Sanson, formerly of Hibria (those guys recently hired Victor Emeka, so look for more of them).
Obviously, there are similarities to the likes of Symphony X and similar acts, as well as the more melodic power leanings of Lost Horizon. Parts of Unyielding is incredibly energetic and speedy as all hell, especially the first few tracks, which are outstanding; heavy and progressive in equal measure to the slight cheesy atmosphere, speed and melodic flair. The guitars, with Tougas and Christian Münzner dueling and carrying each other in the riffing department, is fresh and invigorating, but the highlights are in their frenetic lead play; that old school, Gamma Ray like tenacity that just revels in the fun and ferocious technicality of it all. And of course, when Jimmy Pitts’ keys enter the fray the battle of glorious lead melodics is turned to the next level. The bass presence is, as expected from LePond, prevalent and big sounding, pummeling with a fresh sense of clarity in the speedier parts, while also standing out and going above and beyond to add the extra flourishes, never following the leads but building his own dimension to the already fleshed out entirety, making the sound deeper and the songs get that LePond touch.
Powerful, sharp and poignant, every song tells a story of its own while feeling like an integral chapter of the arch. Instrumental mid album track Dreaming of Cimmerian Shadow is a rollicking melodic piece that divides the album between the first, speedy, powerful 20 minutes and the deeper, more evocative 27 minutes that comprise the second part of the album. The lyrics aren’t that far from what you might find on a power metal album set to be epic; fantastic tales of warriors from legend and marches into battle, you know - the same old same old. However, Eternity’s End still make it feel fresh and vigorous, and while there’s certainly a bit of cheesiness, it feels entirely appropriate and fitting. There’s just no part of the music that isn’t craned to a hundred, and they make everything click perfectly. I’d have preferred Sanson to delve into his deeper parts at times, but the high notes fit the speedy approach. The music is technical and melodic in equal measure, and it revels in the silly, but takes itself seriously as it soars ever onward on epic frets of fire, making Unyielding the last must hear of 2018. Or the first of 2019, whatever.
Standout tracks: Into Timeless Realms, Under Crimson Moonlight