Good old fashioned, solo heavy tunes

Everyone, meet The New Messiah, a thrash meets grunge with a hint of power collaborative work fronted by Sydney based singer Jordan Howe.

Although supported by an amazing musical cast, the focus is 100 percent on Howe and musically, that’s not a bad thing. It’s far from perfect, but there’s still plenty to love about what’s on offer.

Despite being recorded on a shoestring budget, The New Messiah is loaded with first class musicianship. After establishing a basic pattern for each song in the first few seconds, Howe throws in a number of variations and subtle licks allowing each track to shift and evolve into something new during each verse. This keeps the album from growing stale, without ever venturing into the sometimes alienating realm of experimentation.

Predominately, the album is made up of adrenaline pumping thrash metal, complete with solos laid out so intricately, with so much drive and passion, that you can’t help but feel positive and strong. Grunge based tunes are relatively subdued but still maintain the sense of strength, and while the music is melancholy, it’s far from depressing. But for all its musical strengths, the vocal and lyrical elements are very hit and miss. Howe’s death metal vocals are accurately pitched, but lacking in the power and ferocity, while his clean singing is often pushed well beyond its range with mixed results. Fortunately, towards the end he manages to get his voice together, rounding out the album nicely.

Of course, it would be rude to ignore the incredible supporting musicians who’ve been plucked from the cream of the local crop – ex-Screaming Jet Paul Woseen, original Mortal Sin drummer Wayne Campbell and Empires of Eden/Paindivision guitarist Stu Marshall. Each member lends their talents to the project with the same precision and drive as Howe, albeit with less creativity. Had the support been provided with music as creative as the lead, The New Messiah could have been something very unique, but instead, most of the backing track is fairly standard time keeping, with the occasional intriguing riff/beat.

Yet the strengths of the album largely come undone thanks to underwhelming production. The main issue is lack of balance, with the majority of the volume focusing on the supporting musicians. Turning down the front man was a very strange choice, a choice which impacts on the musical power of The New Messiah, particularly when Marshall is smashing out a technical solo that should sit at the top of the mix.

Despite its flaws, The New Messiah is an excellent album that shows what one can achieve with the right drive and passion. Perhaps the strongest element is that it all feels so natural and effortless, as music flows out of their fingertips and onto the strings in a way that only the most skilled musicians can achieve. There’s no attempt at conveying any image, no deep or introspective message, just good old fashioned, solo heavy tunes. And that, metal fans, is what makes The New Messiah so great.

1.The Lord’s Prayer
2. Lost World
3. Tears of the Innocent
4. Monster
5. No One to Blame
6. The Rest of Your Life
7. All Gonna Die
8. Beautiful
9. Not Dead Yet
10. Epilogue