Gothic Knights - Up From The Ashes
American bands aren't that common among the review material here at Metal Covenant but we're trying to work on that as much as we possibly can find the time to. Gothic Knights is one of the bands that's been figuring in the background for quite a while and now with their third release Up From the Ashes they've found their way here. Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, this band has been around for quite some time and has also received much praise for their earlier albums and especially their previous release Kingdom of the Nights. Regarding their sound I have some info here that describes the band's music like this: "A symbiotic mixture of powerful, timeless Metal and filigree classical quotations with the elegance of baroque influences." Where do they ever come up with these cheesy descriptions and what the heck do they really mean is what I wonder every time I read such attempts of cleverness. The only word I could think of among them that I could make some serious use of is classic. 'Cause Gothic Knights play classic US power metal and that's a more than fully sufficient explanation, so why even bother to complicate things more than absolutely necessary?
Lyrically Gothic Knights prefer subjects like history, mystery and fantasy with the usual heroes, swords and steel stuff. And as ususal when dealing with metal from across the Atlantic, the happy tralala stuff of European acts is good as non-existent. The sound of the band mainly circles around the vocals of Rick Sanchez and the outstanding guitars of John Tsantakis. This guitarist can surely play and provides a sound that is as can be expected from a band in this genre. They're aggressive, raw and harsch and every now and then some very impressive solos are thrown in for good measure. Galopping rhythms are of course also present and overall the guitar provides a sound that could be described as a more direct and more modern version of Helloween's Walls of Jericho mixed with other American bands like Virgin Steele, Zandelle etc. Tsantakis is plain and simply a real formidable metal guitarist and there's a name to have in mind when future guitar kings will be crowned and I wish I could somehow judge this album based on the guitars alone. The vocals however I have some difficulties taking entirely to my heart. Proffesionally judged they must be considered to be above average but on a more personal level I don't like the sound of it that much. It's mainly in the mid range area and despite that he on more than occasion makes me think of Mathew Barlow and even of Rob Halford in some more screaming parts I just can't distribute a higher grade than just "good" for his performance this time.
The other problem I have with this album is the overall quality of the songs. There are some really great ones on here, among them the actual title track, the mid tempo epic Sleepy Hollow, the faster songs Warrior of Fate and Power and the Glory, but the gaps between these better ones and the others not as good are a bit too big. The production by Erich Rachel at Trax East Studios is another very good installment though, but that's only to be expected from someone who's also worked with bands like Symphony X and Skid Row. The result is a sound that is very direct, tight, aggressive and powerful and the high quality of that saves much of the day for Gothic Knights here.
The conclusion of these ups and downs is that if US metal
really is your bag you can probably unheard safely continue to fill
it with Up From the Ashes, and also begin to ogle at Kingdom of the
Nights as well. I'm also a big fan of US metal but since Sanchez's vocals
aren't really up my alley and I think there are too many fillers, Gothic
Knights won't be as critically acclaimed by me as by many other reviewers
out there. My best advice here for you still in doubt is to listen to
The Power and the Glory on their label's homepage and then decide for
yourselves whether a purchase is of interest or not.