“Ages Unsung” is a new record from Ottawa-based band Chariot of the Gods. Upon first glance, this record appears to be a competently executed melodic death metal record, drawing comparisons to any of the common giants of the subgenre. This is where the band is at their absolute best, as they deliver strong riffs, compelling melodies, and plenty of aggression. It isn’t long, however, before the classic pitfall that nearly every melodeath band falls into rears its head: clean singing. To be clear, I prefer clean singing to harsh vocals. Stuff like Maiden, Priest, and so on just can’t be topped. But melodeath bands (or perhaps more accurately: metalcore bands) have this unfortunate tendency to find the whiniest individual they can for reasons completely unclear to me. In the case of Chariot of the Gods, the guy doing their clean vocals isn’t so whiny as he is just out of tune and technically deficient (he does get better as the record goes on though; the opener, "Tusk", has some painful examples). While the legendary Insomnium could be said to have the same fatal flaw, the difference is that Insomnium’s bleak clean vocals fit the dreary nature of their music. With Chariot of the Gods, it distracts from the more metallic moments that crush everything.
The worst such instance is in “Through Darkness and Decay”. This lengthier track starts off as a ballad that is what I can only imagine bands like Five Finger Death Punch or Nickelback sound like. The worst thing about this song is that it actually has the best moments on the album! Once all of the garbage is out of the way, the band bursts into these wicked Iron Maiden-esque harmonies that absolutely rule. It’s frustrating to have such a diverse range of styles in one song because the payoff is absolutely not worth it.
It’s always easy to focus on the negatives, but to the band’s credit, there’s a lot going on here to like. Their growler has a satisfying rasp that works perfectly atop the crunchy riffs that the band consistently delivers. Most of the melodies are well-constructed and flow within the context of the song, rather than the randomness that sometimes infects melodeath. The guitar playing is absolutely ace, a fact that is demonstrated any time there is a solo (the title track has an amazing sweeping section, and later closes with even more shredding). Some of the tracks don’t lean all that hard on the clean singing, and those are the moments when Chariot of the Gods truly shines. The entire package presented by “Ages Unsung” might be most comparable to a band like Killswitch Engage, but with less convincing execution. The metal moments are as good as ever, but the remainder are difficult to look past for me personally, which is the primary reason why “Ages Unsung” will not garner much replay value.
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"War of the Gods"
"As the Sky Falls"
3.1/5 or 62%.
Written by Scott