The Story Behind:
Immortal Guardian have been around in some form or other since 2008, although their debut album was released in 2018 having been proceeded by a few EPs under the guise of “Super Metal” in 2012 through to 2014. The guitarist and keyboard player Gabriel Guardian has a reputation for playing both instruments at the same time as can be found on YouTube. The band have played a good number of shows supporting folks such as Judas Priest, Dragonforce, Slayer and Metal Church amongst others. They play a mix of neo-classical and power metal with a sprinkling of symphonic. They had been working on material when the pandemic took hold but scrapped it all to do something conceptual in nature regarding the current situation and the emotions that it has brought to the fore for many of us. Due to Covid, they recorded all the parts separately with members being from different countries, those being Brazil, Canada and the US. With the wonders of modern technology, you would have no idea unless you were informed as it sounds very cohesive.
The Songs And Emotions:
So onto the songs from the album called Psychosomatic. There are 11 of them, most of which are pretty upbeat sounding despite the subject matter being quite dark. Opener is similar to an Epica opener with Eastern vibes. The chorus (as should be for this style of metal) is huge sounding, in fact, I am sure the band must be Queen fans especially on the way they use backing vocals, layer on layer. Lyrically it asks about the effects on the mind whilst isolating. The stress and worry of the disease resulting in the taking away of their “sleep“. “Read Between The Lines” is very classical in style with the lead guitar breakdown being a fun listen. Lyrically it features the line “the earth has stopped but death keeps on spreading” hitting home nicely. (As an aside the fact that many folks haven’t taken it seriously has not helped. Things like this only truly work if folks all stick together as happened in places like New Zealand!)
Light In The Black:
The first video released on YouTube was “Lockdown” so some of you may have already seen it/heard it. However, on the album, there is an intro with a voice saying “we don’t want a cycle of lockdowns… it’s not the way forward” which I think might be from a news programme. Sadly due to the virus still spreading that is of course what has happened in some of our countries. They talk about being “trapped inside the net” which as many folks now work and see friends via things like Zoom, is how some might very well feel. I cannot stress enough that although the album looks at the emotions going through this pandemic the music is uplifting and they still manage little moments of humour to remind us that there is always “light in the black” (as sung by Ronnie James Dio).
I do need to mention how good singer Carlos Zema is. With range, power, and emotion he can sing sweetly and howl like a banshee whenever required. In fact, he can even sound manic and crazy when the moment calls, which he does on “Clocks“. The sound of time ticking is nicely represented in the playing at the beginning of the song before a very theatrical vocal comes in. “The hours tick like minutes seconds just the same” he sings as time becomes meaningless. “A vicious cycle corrupting the brain” making him go “insane“. Who reading this that has been isolated (especially those with health issues etc) hasn’t felt like they were going mad, stir crazy? This song captures the moods/despair/insanity whilst actually entertaining the absolute shit out of you. A success in every way!
There is a short, almost an intermission piece in “Self-Isolation” before one of the saddest and most poignant tracks “Goodbye To Farewells“. This song made me feel for those who have indeed suffered loss during this period of close friends and or family whether due to Covid or other ailments and diseases. “No funerals, burials, mourning’s to be held” he sings. Possibly one of the most painful ordeals through this period will have been those unable to say goodbye. Whether it be being able to get into a hospice to hold the hands of a loved one as they pass or being able to gather together to say a proper farewell in a funeral. All that pent up emotion in not being able to grieve is poured out in this song. Once again I think they hit a perfect note between the music and vocal styles. There are even some death metal vocals on this (it sounds like a female, to be honest, but I see nothing in the press notes to confirm).
“Candlelight” is as it sounds, a song of remembrance for those who have passed away. The melody for the chorus is a tearjerker with some deft touch of keys throughout the song. “A New Day Rising” is kind of a song of hope. Perhaps it is time to try and “start again” sing and dance to a “new song” and all importantly “get along“. The music for this is riff-heavy with one of those choruses which has such strength in feel and emotional pull. If we are to get there we must “listen to the science” and work together. Life will return, be positive, be assured.
Metal With A Smiley Face!:
I am sure there will be many bands that will do albums that talk about the pandemic. But none like this which is written and performed dealing with the subject right in the middle of it. I am glad to say there are plenty of strong songs to go along with all the speed and virtuosity. As an album, it works well telling the story whilst still managing to make the listener smile and feel hopeful. Just what we all need in these times. Power symphonic prog metal with a smiley face!
Album out on M-Theory Audio on Friday, February 12, 2021.
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