Better Noise [Release date 20.01.17]
We first heard As Lions when they released a four track EP featuring tracks from their forthcoming debut album. Immediately, as with the opener here ‘Aftermath’, you knew this was something special.
Strong on melody, and blending electro flavours with alternative rock perhaps best sums up this young band fronted by Austin Dickinson (ex-Rise To Remain). I recall great things were expected of Rise To Remain but they seemed to burn out almost as quickly as they had arrived. It can’t have helped being promoted as EMI’s one and only new metal signing. It was around the time EMI was in turmoil and they’re not exactly known for metal.
As well as Austin, fellow RTR band members Will Homer(guitar) and Conor O’Keefe (guitar, keys) make up As Lions together with Stefan Whiting (bass) and Dave Fee (drums).
Some US touring with the likes of Shinedown (with whom they share some similarities) and Five Finger Death Punch plus production shared by David Bendeth (who has worked with the likes of Paramore and Bring Me The Horizon) and Kane Churko (Five Finger Death Punch, Disturbed) has given Austin’s new band a polish and a US-style sheen.
This debut is full of the proverbial anthemic rock delivered in a totally convincing manner and as evidenced on tracks like ‘The Suffering’, ‘Pieces’ and ‘White Flags’. It’s an album of standouts, not least ‘World On Fire’ and ‘One By One’. But by the time of the final track ‘The Great Escape’ you might be thinking “I need to take this literally…”
If there’s a single criticism, this is one of those albums that really grabs you on first listening but it may not prove all that durable. It’s ear candy from start to finish and very one-paced. It also conforms to a production vision and values which may not endure. I probably won’t like it as much in a year’s time. For the moment though, I love it.
I didn’t even mention that Austin is the son of Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson. But there’s no hint of Maiden DNA in either the music or the vocals. This has to be one of the strongest debut albums of 2017 and if the band can build on its greatness, no doubt greater things will surely follow. ****
Review by David Randall
David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.
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