The beer of choice for this review is Hardknott Infrared I.P.A, from Cumbria. Just like this CD by the Swiss heavy metal band, Distant Past, it’s very good.
‘A Day Of Darkness’ gets things underway. A classy heavy riff, with some nice tempo changes and a melodic solo are provided by guitarist Christof Schafer. There’s some well delivered vocals by Jvo Julmy. There’s shades of Iron Maiden in this dark song about the Day Of Judgement. ‘Sceptre’ is about an emperor, who has complete power and is tyrannical and cruel but is lonely and hated. There’s some good tempo changes here too, with some nice bass fills and lively drumming. Again, the song is well written, with plenty of verses. Track 3, ‘On The Edge’ is a full-throttle rocker featuring new guitarist Alain Curty (Schaffer and Curty rarely appear on the same track!). The wild solos are by a guy simply called Luti. ‘Faces’ has an atmospheric slower start. Vocalist Julmy adds a sense of desperation, with his well delivered vocals. Schaffer returns with another catchy riff and the drumming is pretty energetic too. The song is about having visions of and hearing the dead!
‘Vampires’ seems the theme for Kingdom Of Shadows. Again it has little nods towards Iron Maiden, especially the melodic start with Steve Harris-like bass playing. Then there’s a nice simple riff by Schaffer (who also produced the cd with a fair degree of skill). He also impresses with his fluent soloing on this track. Track 6 is a really atmospheric song called ‘Helpless’. Alain Curty reappears to deliver some nifty fretwork and there’s some more desperation in the vocals. Up next is ‘Guided By Stars’, a track about travelling through space looking for a new home for the human race after it eventually destroys Earth! Oops!
There are three drummers on this cd, Jan Zwiebel, Al Spicher and Andy Bachler. They all add to the album with their well-paced and often lively and energetic drumming. ‘Beneath The Spell’ is another well-written and executed track. Adriano Troiano seems to be the lyric writer, well, he wrote this and three other tracks on his own. ‘The Illusion’ has a really good, complicated time change in the chunky riff and is an enjoyably short heavy metal track. ‘The Hell of Verdun’ is one of those epic World War One songs. Curty takes over the guitar duties well, with a staccato riff and some nice melody work and soloing.
I was lucky enough to get the cd with two bonus tracks. The first of these, ‘Signs Of The End’ is a bleak tale about the end of the world and has another slow start, before plunging into another catchy riff with those vocals conveying feel and desperation. A very deep ‘Touched By The Gods’ brings the CD to an end. It’s a bit more hopeful than many of the other tracks. It has a chuggy metal riff, with some more impressive guitar work, energetic drumming and a catchy bass line.
Ultimately ‘Utopian Void’ is an enjoyable, well written heavy metal CD, with good musicianship throughout. Give it a listen.
By Chris Greenwood