Whilst I regularly found myself irritated by journalists declaring a band to be the next ____, listening to Dendera it’s hard to escape the conclusion that they could well be the next Iron Maiden. Whilst, sadly, it is unlikely that Dendera will repeat that band’s Faustian level of success, they do have the ambition and the ability to at least replicate Maiden’s longevity and to garner a similarly loyal fan base. What sets Dendera apart is that they play classic heavy metal without sounding as if they are playing classic heavy metal. All of the elements are here – screaming solos, sledgehammer riffs, hammer down drumming and melodic vocals, but they’re delivered in such a way, and with such towering authority, that, even if the band are not redesigning the wheel, there is at least the sense that they are perfecting it.
‘Pillars of creation’ is, quite simply, a monstrous beast of an album. A cutting edge slab of heavy metal that pays fair tribute to its predecessors, but which demands your attention here and now. From the stunning musicianship to the flawless production, (Daily George, Chris Lyndon and Neil Kennedy), Dendera simply don’t put a foot wrong over the course of the album’s fifty minutes, and there is not a weak song on offer. In better times this would be racked up in the chart section, but even in today’s parlous era the CD deserves to fly off the shelves. It is, without doubt, the best straight up heavy metal CD I’ve heard yet this year and it should come as no surprise that the eight tracks flew past on my first few listens without my even noticing it.
Openign with harmonised guitars, ‘claim our throne’ rapidly develops into the sort of blood-lust fuelled metal anthem that most bands would sell their souls to write. The melodic vocals (Ashley Edison) are laid down with consummate authority and zeal and it’s easy to draw comparisons with Bruce Dickinson such is the power and range of Ashley’s delivery. The band, meanwhile, unleash riff after mother***ing riff (to quote the Wildhearts) and the fluid solos that grace the second half of the track are just the icing on a particularly grand cake. Man, it’s one hell of a start! An adrenalin-infused belter of a track and, thankfully, the band go on to deliver seven more in the same vein, never once letting their collective foot off the pedal as they slam into each subsequent track. ‘Bloodlust’ proves to be aptly titled as it kicks off with all the power of ‘ride the lightening’ era Metallica, Ashley sounding particularly unholy as the band whip up a sonic storm around him. Upping the ante? The band destroy the ante with this deft step up from the opening track and it’s clear that this is a band content to pace themselves, leading with a track that for anyone else would easily be their strongest song, only to come back even stronger on the follow up. There’s melody in spades here, keeping the whole thing easily memorable, but it’s the chrome-plated riffs that draw the eye here, whilst a chorus that sits comfortably between Dream Theater and Metallica only serves to send the listener further into the throes of metal-induced ecstasy. I could keep on in this vein throughout, but, for fear of superlative overload, it’s worth dialling a bit as the band move into the crunchy glory of ‘in high tide’, a taut, dynamic song that is part Judas Priest, part Testament, the band effortlessly unleashing thrash-infused heavy metal as Ashley once again underscores the rapidly growing notion that he may well be one of the finest vocalists coming up through the ranks. ‘Disillusioned’, in contrast, is a slower number that sees guitarists Steve Main and Tony Fuller indulging their inner-sabbath whilst Andy Finch (drums) does a fine job of reducing his kit (and possibly the studio) to rubble.
‘The daylight ending’ sees the band tearing into classic thrash, once again recalling the epic might of Testament and vintage Metallica, whilst Bradley Edison’s bass runs keep things interesting. Delivered in a whirlwind of blood, sweat and tears, ‘the daylight ending’ is Dendera at their anthemic best, whilst ‘the chosen one’ is a crushing slab of thrusting metal that sees Ashley moving from dark growl to epic wail with deft ease. ‘Unholy’ sees the album racing toward its conclusion with brutal speed, the band steadfastly refusing to let the bit slip from between their teeth, only for the stop start intro of ‘edge of tomorrow’ to sweep everything before it in terms of sheer metallic pomp. It’s a stunning finale, an eight-minute beast that roams roughshod through the realms of classic metal and thrash looking for all the world like it owns the place and, in fairness, it may well do.
You may have gathered from my unreserved outpourings that I like this album and I assure you that it is not mere hyperbole – this is a crushing, head-banging, neck-breaking delight of a record. I’ve been through the damn thing twice and I simply cannot fault any aspect of it from the super clear (even beautiful) production job to the epic quality of the song writing. You just know, listening to the band, that they have that magic quality that supercharges their songs with an otherworldly brilliance that will have you playing the album to anyone and everyone you can lay your hands upon. I could continue, but fear I may be foaming at the mouth so I’ll leave you with a simple conclusion: buy this amazing album and buy it now – your life will be the better for it.