A Sound Of Thunder
December 18, 2020
The four musicians from Washington DC are a phenomenon. A Sound of Thunder were founded in 2008 by drummer Chris Haren and guitarist Josh Schwartz. One year later, singer Nina Osegueda joined the band. There were only a few line-up changes on the bass in the first two years. Until the matching bass player was found in 2010 with Jesse Keen. And that lineup hasn’t changed until today. What makes ASoT so unique is that they haven’t signed a record deal yet. All albums were created independently. Many could be financed through more than successful crowdfunding campaigns. Cheers to the loyal fans. This year the quartet is celebrating the tenth anniversary of the current lineup. They have come up with something very special for this. Twelve songs from their previous career were re-recorded in the studio and pressed onto a disc. For the first time, a composer (Brad Charles, Magic Giraffe Soundworks) was collaborated on the recordings. His orchestrations ensure a lot of epic in the sound. But that’s not all. In addition, a book was designed with 76 pages. The bonus CD should not go unmentioned. This contains another twelve tracks, alternative song versions, some of which show a completely different side of the musicians. It goes without saying that this ambitious project was successfully financed via crowdfunding.
What could be more natural than opening the album with the song that bears the band name as the title. “A Sound Of Thunder” clearly shows from the start that this is not a normal album. Such a bombastic orchestral introduction has never before been heard from the band. The first two minutes are practically the overture, as it is usual in classical symphonies or operas. But then the usual band sound sets in. The usual one? Not quite. Although the rhythm section really goes on and singer Nina Osegueda is roaring her heart out, the orchestral background is always present. Josh Schwartz wrote the music for “Explorer” back in 2008. But the song could not be heard on the first EP or the debut album. The time just wasn’t right. It actually took twelve years for the band to record this epic monumental work. At more than thirteen minutes, the longest song the band has ever produced. But now the fans can enjoy it to the full. At first you think you are hearing a Celtic folk song. That is probably the best vocal performance by Nina that I have ever heard. After approximately three minutes, “Explorer” becomes a great mid-tempo anthem. Why did the musicians “hide” this song from us for so long? Even if you hardly want to prefer a song on the album, this one is probably the absolute highlight. “Walls” is pure Power Metal. Iron Maiden was the inspiration here. “The Buried Truth” comes from the debut album “Metal Renaissance”. The year of publication (2011) was also the first year without a lineup change. Actually, the fans prefer other songs from this album. The choice for the new recording was therefore not exactly easy. Lyricist Chris Haren has a special relationship with it. So, this great metal anthem made it to land on the anniversary album.
“Discovery” was only presented live twice, but it is one of the band’s favourite tracks. Another classic rock anthem from the band’s early years. Too good to be forgotten. With “Time’s Arrow” too, ASoT are largely based on classic hard rock with its stadium anthems. This song could also be celebrated in large arenas. For bassist Jesse Keen, this song is in a sense a premiere. It’s his first spoken words. And it still gives him goose bumps when he hears himself say the words “Destination 2020”. A mixture of really big uplifting themes as well as darkness and brutality, this is “Queen of Hell”. Singer Nina Osegueda brings this across excellently. She is the beauty and the beast in personal union. Guitarist Josh Schwartz sees the guitar solo as an homage to his great idol Ritchie Blackmore. Although one album later, “Udoroth” follows on seamlessly. The band is looking for the villain for the Queen of Hell and found him in “Udoroth”. Since then, this character has also become the band’s mascot. The author of these lines owns a band shirt with this motif. The comic fans A Sound of Thunder also produced an animated video. And bitterly evil, like this creature, is the sound too.
“Elijah” starts off calmly at first. Nina’s singing is unusually gentle. Here, too, there is a lot of orchestral bombast again. But the second longest song on the album is multi-layered. Later the beast reappears in the singer. The singing seems hectic in places, whipped by the intense drumming. A comic was set to music on “Tales from the Deadside”. And so “Can’t Go Back” tells of the origins of the Shadowman. Of course, the Catalan anthem, the traditional “Els Segadors”, should not be missing. After all, the singer is half of Catalan descent and therefore has a great connection with this northeastern region of Spain. The performances in Barcelona are probably one of the absolute highlights in the band’s history. I am always impressed with how much feeling the band lifted this traditional song into metal heaven. This song, like the bouncer “Phantom Flight”, comes from the band’s last regular album “It Was Metal”. And this one also has a long history. The main riff was created around 2010. But good songs have to mature. It wasn’t until 2016 that Josh had the brilliant idea of how to finish this song. Here Nina gets male support from the current Accept singer Mark Tornillo. Two great metal voices in a duet. How can you close such an album better?
There is also a bonus CD. On this one can hear many A Sound of Thunder songs in a new guise. Most impressive here are the orchestral versions. Just listen to “Phantom Flight” or “Els Segadors”. The band song “A Sound Of Thunder” can be heard in a purely instrumental version. The acoustic version of “Too Late” also knows how to please. Did Nina Osegueda’s singing ever sound more vulnerable? And it is only accompanied by an acoustic guitar. I don’t like all the techno or industrial remixes. But that’s more a matter of taste. Nevertheless, it is precisely these that show the diversity of the four musicians. A highlight is the mystical sounding version of “Discovery”. I could imagine this in the repertoire of a medieval folk band.
“Parallel Eternity” is an impressive retrospective from twelve years of A Sound of Thunder. This of course makes it no ordinary album. The band put a lot of passion, a lot of work and a lot of money into the production. All songs were re-recorded and, thanks to the work of Brad Charles, enriched with a lot of epic. Although this is unusual for the band, it is more than appropriate for the occasion. But publication is also a total work of art in which the book is an indispensable part. On 76 pages you can follow the history of ASoT impressively, enriched with many picture documents from these twelve years. I have no choice but to give the highest score three times. For the next dozen years!
Chris Haren – Drums, Percussion
Josh Schwartz – Guitars, Keyboards
Nina Osegueda – Vocals, Theremin
Jesse Keen – Bass, Keyboards, Vocals (backing)
Track list (Kickstarter Version):
- A Sound of Thunder (Out of the Darkness, 2012)
- Walls (A Sound Of Thundere EP, 2009)
- The Buried Truth (Metal Renaissance, 2011)
- Discovery (Out of the Darkness, 2012)
- Time’s Arrow (Time’s Arrow, 2013)
- Queen of Hell (Queen of Hell EP, 2012)
- Udoroth (The Lesser Key of Solomon, 2014)
- Elijah (The Lesser Key of Solomon, 2014)
- Can’t Go Back (Tales from the Deadside, 2015)
- Els Segadors (The Reapers) (It Was Metal, 2018)
- Phantom Flight (It Was Metal, 2018)
- Too Late (Acoustic)
- La Presó Del Rei De França
- Phantom Flight (Classical)
- Els Segadores (Classical)
- A Sound Of Thunder (Classical Instrumental)
- Can’t Go Back (Shadowave)
- Udoroth (That One Club From That Movie Blade Where The Sprinklers Spray Blood)
- Kill That Bitch (Thunder-Wubz)
- Discovery (Mystical)
- I’ll Walk With You (Ethereal)
- Reign Of The Hawklords (Ancient World)