Sound — 8
The late 90's and early 00's weren't the best times for fans of shred guitar. After it's mid to late 80's heyday the style took a serious hit once bands like Pantera (more about groove than showy solos) and Soundgarden permeated the mainstream, many fast-pickers abandoned the shred. It was harder to find young, over-the-top players sprouting up like they did years back. You'd be hard pressed to discover a new Jason Becker or Paul Gilbert around 1996. Luckily for shred enthusiasts the last few years has found the style come back with a furor. Check out Willie Adler (Lamb of God), Dario Lorina, Muhammed Suicmez (Necrophagist), and Herman Li (Dragonforce) if you don't believe us. Enter Woe of Tyrants. The young Ohio outfit is all about the turbo guitar runs and their new record is packed to the rafters with them! It seems like around every corner there's one of the two six-stringers going for the throat at maximum speed. Nick Dozer and Matt Kincaid have obviously done their homework. Not only do they expertly navigate around the fretboard with fluid ease, they still manage to make many of the solos and quick counter-melodies extremely catchy. That's a rare feat these days.
Lyrics — 7
Chris Catanzaro possesses the kind of voice that is needed to pierce through the walls of guitars and thunderous drums a band like Woe of Tyrants lays down. He's got more of a shriek than the lower, gruff style many of their counterparts go with. It's something of a miracle that the constant screeching doesn't wreak havoc on his vocal cords to the point of destruction. On Like Jasper and Carnelian he comes off more like a rabid hyena than he does human. Seriously, the guy pushes his vocals through with so much pointed disdain you wonder if he's going to be able to pull the stuff off in a live setting. The busy arrangements don't seem to hamper Catanzaro's vocal performances. Instead the vocalist comes up with an endless series of choppy cadences more than suitable for the material. He's got a firm grip on the choppy rhythms and even the more technical sections on the record don't weaken his assault. The one setback would be his anxiousness. Some of the passages could have been a bit more interesting if the singer pulled back the reigns a bit and let the parts breathe.
Overall Impression — 7
Most of Kingdom of Might sounds like a young band trying to prove a point. The intensity, relentlessness, and chaotic nature of it proves WOT were out for blood. The difference between them and other newer acts in this position is their veteran-like musicianship. Yes, they need to hold back a lot more on future releases but that will come with more experience. This album has to be celebrated for what it is; a shred party seen through the musical scope of a death-metal band. Dozer and Kincaid hold the keys to the kingdom (pun not intended) here and song after song is a testament to their prowess. Tracks like Sounding Jerusalem and Break the Fangs of the Wicked find the guitarists playing in a style that has more in common with the aforementioned golden days of shred-guitar than they do with anything else. Joey Sturgis' (The Devil Wears Prada, Gwen Stacy) production style is a little too modern for my taste. It would have been nice to hear a lot more bottom end but unfortunately this is how most heavy records sound nowadays. All in all, Woe of Tyrants has given us a tasty slab of shred that will surely appeal to the speed freaks reading this. Let's hope the guys in the band can do a guitar lesson for the UG community soon. It would be fantastic to check out Dozer and Kincaid isolated in action.