Album Reviews

Millennial Reign – The Great Divide Review

Released By: Ulterium Records

Release Date: May 25th, 2018

Genre: Heavy/Power Metal

Links: https://www.millennialreign.com/

 

Line Up:

Travis Willis – Vocals

Dave Harvey – Guitars

Neil Bertrand – Bass

Steve Nichols – Drums

 

Tracklist:

1. The Genesis

2. Break the Tide

3. More Than Scars

4. Imagine

5. Till the End

6. In Your Silence

7. The Day The Sun Stood Still

8. Behind the Time

9. Wounds in Hand

10. The Great Divide

 

Despite being a huge fan of European power metal, its American equivalent is something I haven’t listened to a whole lot of over the years and when I have, it’s come with mixed results. Needless to say, my knowledge of USPM only extends to the very obvious major bands, and so any smaller act always ends up going unnoticed. Except now, with American heavy/power metal band coming to my attention as the release of their third full-length release, The Great Divide, approaches. The band has been around since 2010, but I had not heard anything about them until just recently when I received a promo for this album, and so I had no idea what to expect. In the end, while The Great Divide likely isn’t going to blow most people away, it’s definitely a solid, hard-edged album that mixes elements of power metal heavy metal and some symphonic metal elements fluidly together with some upbeat and inspiring Christian lyrics, that definitely helps the band stand out from the crowd.

While I’ve seen Millennial Reign described as a US power metal band, that isn’t entirely the case, as their music definitely includes some elements one wouldn’t expect from that genre. Most notably, it has a fair amount of the kind of symphonic elements one would more likely expect from a Euro power metal band, and these are actually quite prominent on a few tracks here, like the opener “Break the Tide” and “Imagine”. At the same time, the overall feel the music is definitely on the harder-edged side, as fans would expect, as most tracks move at a solid mid-pace, not quite going full throttle most of the time, but moving along nicely. There is one notable exception, which I’ll mention later in the review, but aside from that highlight, most tracks here move at about the same pace, which I find to be slightly disappointing as I think the album could use a bit more variety. However, the band does a nice job of alternating between heavier passages and calmer passages and there are a couple softer tracks in the second half that help break from the mold just a little bit, and for the most part, I find the songwriting to be solid, but not spectacular. The musicianship, though, is quite strong, with the drums having a great sense of rhythm and timing, and they’re definitely fun to listen to throughout, while the guitars deliver some heavy riffs, while also having some nice melodic leads and some excellent, very technical solo sections. Production is also top-notch, with everything sounding clear and powerful.

Another area where the band excels is in the vocals. Newcomer Travis Willis makes his debut on this album, and he does a terrific job, showing an excellent range, delivering some nice deeper vocals at times, to go along with the expected higher range and epic vocals that fit the music perfectly. The higher ranged vocals tend to dominate the tracks and are very effective, and he manages to sound powerful and smooth, while also being slightly over the top in a way that fits the songs well. Perhaps my one complaint is I think the band could have given him some more sections that take advantage of his lower register, as his deeper vocals are great, but they feel a bit underused, mostly coming out during softer sections on a couple tracks like “Break the Tide” and “Wounds in Hand”. Aside from that, though, he does an excellent job throughout.

The one area where I feel the album doesn’t quite reach its full potential is in the songwriting. Don’t get me wrong, though: It’s definitely a solid album, with no real duds, I just find there’s only really two songs here that stick with me and help elevate the album, while the rest is solid, but doesn’t quite manage to blow me away. Starting with the positives, after a solid intro, opening track “Break the Tide” is excellent, moving at a slightly faster pace than normal, while still being fairly mid-paced, and it brings some heavy riffs early on before softening up a bit, while the symphonic elements are on full display early on. Travis gets a great vocal section that showcases his lower register early on before the pace picks up and the music gets heavier, giving way to an epic and very catchy chorus that fully shows off his more epic and over the top higher vocals. There’s an excellent instrumental section in the second half, and overall it’s a great track that gives a nice indication of what to expect from the rest of the album, though I find it to be slightly better than the rest, with one exception.

After that excellent opener, the next three tracks are all fairly similar, moving at a slightly slower pace overall, but still having occasional speedier sections, and they all move at a decent mid-tempo. First is “More Than Scars”, which has some nice heavy riffs during the verses, before calming down for a quiet but very good chorus, while “Imagine”is slightly heavier and more upbeat, with very heavy verses and an epic chorus that definitely helps raise it slightly above most other tracks on the album. The last of the bunch is “Till the End”, a slightly softer and more melodic track, which still manages to have some excellent guitar work, especially during the chorus, which is again excellent, while the verses are solid but more relaxed.

Speaking of more relaxed, the softest track of the album is “In Your Silence”, the lone ballad of the album, which is very soft most of the way through, only slightly picking up the intensity during its chorus, which is once again the obvious highlight, where the vocals really shine through. The instrumental section in the middle is also very good, but overall I find it to be a track that’s very solid overall, but it never quite manages to lift itself to greater heights, instead just being enjoyable but not especially memorable. Another softer track is “Wounds in Hand”, which opens with a nice piano section and early on it feels like it could be another ballad, but the guitars kick in early on and it turns into a more hard rock influenced song, moving at a slow pace with very soft verses, before getting a bit more intense during the chorus. It has another great instrumental section, and overall it’s a fairly calm track with occasional bursts of heaviness. Just before that one is “Behind the Time”, another more mid-paced track, with some pretty heavy verses and a nice upbeat chorus, though it’s one of the many tracks here that’s simply solid, but doesn’t really stand out. Closing out the album is the title track, which opens up with keyboards, before settling into a mid-paced groove, with some heavy guitars and powerful vocals. It has another great chorus and it feels like a cut above many of the other tracks, but it still doesn’t quite reach the heights of the best songs on the album.

One track I haven’t mentioned yet is “The Day the Sun Stood Still”, which stands out as being by far the best, most energetic and fun track on the album. It comes firing out of the gates at a speedy pace and it doesn’t let up throughout, with energetic riffs, powerful vocals and a super fast and catchy chorus. It has an excellent guitar solo and slight symphonic elements, and overall it’s the most traditional power metal track on the album, which probably explains why it hits me so much harder than the rest. It definitely is a very well written and well-performed track in any case, though.

Overall, while The Great Divide isn’t an amazing or game-changing album, it’s definitely a solid release with some nice mid-paced heavy/power metal, as well as a couple softer tracks, one speedy power metal track and some excellent vocals and instrumental performances throughout. Millennial Reign definitely has the talent to be a great band, so hopefully, in the future, they can build on this, with slightly better songwriting, and make something even better. In the meantime, this is a very solid album I can easily recommend for USPM fans, as well as fans of more mid-paced and harder-edged heavy metal and power metal.

 

Written by: Travis Green

Ratings:  7/10

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