Sometimes a band super loaded with talent coupled with some notable contributions from well established artists will fail to make a connection with an audience by producing a self centered and egotistical album. The 2009 CD release “Gods of Vermin
” by symphonic/progressive metal band Sons of Seasons is a classic illustration of this point.
Talent-wise, these four guys play like eight. Drum (“Fall
of Byzanz”, “Sanatorium
Song”) and Bass highlights (solos on “Third Moon Rising
” and “Fallen
Family”) reveal above average playing ability and creativity. Lead vocalist Henning Basse (along with contributions from other guest vocalists) takes his medium tone and delivers pitches from a number of styles from falsetto to death metal grunts (“Fallen
Family”). The MVP
of the group – keyboardist, guitarist, and music writer Oliver
Palotai – offers up both some really aggressive metal riffs (“Dead
Man’s Shadows”, “Gods of Vermin
”, and the great “Fallen
Family”) with some moody acoustic features (“Wheel
of Guilt” and “The Piper”). The range of Palotai’s keys’ is wide (like the spacey “Dead
Man’s Shadows”) but more often than not stays within the vicinity of acoustic varieties like violin (“Wintersmith”) and piano (the duet on “Gods of Vermin
”, “The Piper”, and also “Wintersmith” to name a few).
The central problem of the album lies in a fundamental failure to understand the core concept of song writing. From the entire album, only “Wintersmith” provides a signature part that provides the point of the piece – a more derisive word for this would be a hook. Hardly anywhere else is the audience invited to help themselves to the music – it’s all about them – and how can it not be? Spanning thirteen tracks, there are over seventy-two minutes of self indulgence, and with the passing of each song the whole album just becomes so brutally long. Within each song, the amount of notes and tracks that are crammed in between beats is asphyxiating. It’s not only too much, but forced, as if the directors of the band feared that by pulling back a little and simplifying things a bit, their playing skills would not be adequately recognized. Cuts like “Fallen
Family”, “A Blind
Man’s Resolution”, “Belial
”, and “Wintersmith” are the precious few realizations of the band’s writing potential precisely because so many of the wonderful riffs, sounds, and fills that make up the piece are more appropriately spaced. The most constructive criticism that can be given then is that, “Gods of Vermin
” will evoke a most eager anticipation for their next release should their arrogance turn into confidence.
As it stands, Sons of Seasons has all the makings of a great band and it helps to have the likes of Alex Krull (Leaves’ Eyes
) and Simone Simons (Epica
) contributing. “Gods of Vermin
” will drain you, but it won’t bore you. So much of the album is good; if only there wasn’t so much of it. To reiterate, the potential for this band is sky high, but for now, “Gods of Vermin
” is a just good work of progressive heavy metal.