Less than a year since Washington D.C. based A Sound of Thunder released its sophomore album, “Out of the Darkness” the quartet returns with a taste of hell, in the form of a new EP, “Queen of Hell“. I say a taste as this is simply the table-setter for the band’s third full length “Time’s Arrow” due this spring.
The band, Josh Schwartz (guitars), Nina Osegueda (vocals), Chris Haren (drums) and Jesse Keen (bass), are prolific writers, and the tunes just keep coming. As the tracks on the “Queen of Hell” EP, suggest, there’s no lapse in quality either. Produced once again by Kevin ‘131’ Gutierrez (Shinedown, While Heaven Wept, Deceased) at Assembly Line Studios in Virginia, the new material finds the band continuing to grow…but never too much so as to lose its way.
Artwork for the EP was created by Serbian artist Dusan Markovic.
The EP begins with the title track, “Queen of Hell”, with a dramatic build of chanting “hail, Queen of hell!” The guitars then set the pace before the Queen herself, Osegueda who lays down a spine-gripping, throat-ripping howl. Keen and Haren keep the rhythmic propulsion driving the song forward while Schwartz’s guitars do battle with the mammoth voice of Oseguada. Old school Judas Priest meets Gamma Ray, classic Black Sabbath meets Hammerfall: Traditional meets power metal. The fact that Osegueda’s voice alone crashes down like a sound of thunder; one massive sonic tornado and 1000 unleashed hell hounds, only adds to the glory of the beast.
While the band’s signature sound has a grand theatrical flair, they aren’t opposed to dipping into “B” movie territory as they showed us with fan favorite, “Kill That Bitch” from “Out of the Darkness” release. Osegueda continues her psychotic machinations on “Hello Nurse”, a raucous romp where naughty Nina plays a love struck assistant to her own sadistic surgeon. A tack piano on the breakdown and solo adds a perfect touch of masterful debauchery. The riffage recalls vintage Sabbath, which leads us to…
“Trashed”. A Sound of Thunder made something of an internal decision not to record cover tracks, but for this special Kickstarter fan-supported EP, the band relented and dug up a classic. Fortunately they didn’t delve into either the Ozzy or Dio era of Sabbath but chose to mine the band’s underrated gem, “Born Again“. It was the only album to feature Deep Purple vocalist Ian Gillan, and Schwartz and company take on the challenge of bringing it up-to-date in a faithful manner, without losing its black soul.
Rounding out the EP is a second version of the title track. If the thunder-lunged voice of Osegueda was not enough, the equally impressive vocal prowess of Benedictum mistress, Veronica Freeman turns the brutal rampage up a notch or 20.
Sadly, four tracks is all we get with which to whet our collective appetite. Fortunately, the wait for “Time’s Arrow” should not be a long one.
“Queen of Hell” is further proof that A Sound of Thunder is among the leaders of a new generation of modern metal masters building upon the foundation of our proto-metal forefathers. Pre-order it here.
Check out our recent interview with A Sound of Thunder.
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Music is the universal language: Speak it loudly!
Rustyn Rose is a veteran music journalist who owns and operates Metalholic Magazine and Metalholic Radio.