Release Date: May 31st, 2019
Constantine – Guitars
Bill Manthos – Bass, Keyboards, Vocals
1. Bushido (Instrumental)
2. Hellfire Club (feat. Björn “Speed” Strid)
3. Press on Regardless (feat. Ralf Scheepers)
4. Another Day (feat. Apollo Papathanasio
5. Holding on ’til the End (feat. Chris Clancy)
6. Deliver Us (feat. Apollo Papathanasio)
7. Elegy (feat. Bill Manthos)
8. War and Pain (feat. Schmier)
Of all the types of metal I enjoy, one style I’ve never really given much attention to is shred, as I tend to not be overly into anything purely instrumental. Obviously, I enjoy instrumental tracks here and there, and in quick bursts, but an entire album with no vocals is something I generally prefer to only use as background music, and not as something I’d really pay attention to over long periods. Well, getting to the focus of this review, Greek guitarist Constantine is a shred specialist, who released an instrumental album in 2010 called Shredcore, which I, of course, completely missed when it was released, due to my lack of interest in that style. but going back to listen to it now, I have to admit, even I am quite impressed by his guitar work, as well as the songs themselves. Nine years later, he has returned for his second solo album, Aftermath, and this time he has brought in a few very well known guest singers to help out, which has led to a great sophomore release, as well as quite a big change in sound.
Starting with the obvious, aside from the opening track, which could have easily been on Shredcore, the majority of Aftermath is not as overly guitar driven as one might expect. Don’t get me wrong: There obviously is a ton of great guitar work on the album, including some great riffs, some excellent melodies and of course a bit of shred, but the addition of vocals, as well as the assistance of bassist/keyboardist Bill Manthos, has led to a much more melodic, less technical album overall. The biggest difference, though, is that the album is much more song focused, featuring six different vocalists, with a few songs in particular feeling tailor-made for their respective singer. In fact, the album almost feels like one of those various artists compilations you might see as a sampler from a record label, as the genre constantly shifts from song to song, with a mix of alternative metal, classic heavy metal, melodic metal, a light hard rock style ballad, symphonic power metal and even some thrash on the closing track. The two constant elements are Bill Manthos’s keyboards, which are generally more there for extra flavor and tone setting than anything, as well as obviously Constantine’s brilliant guitar work, though even the latter changes a lot from track to track, in order to fit the style of each song. In general, there’s some excellent riffs and melodies on every song, with every track doing a great job of nailing down its specific style, and while the songs are generally fairly simple and straight-forward, everything is well done, and it’s the kind of album I can see appealing to a lot of different people, just due to how varied it is.
This really is the kind of album song by song breakdowns are meant for, as there’s so much variety from track to track, so describing how each song stands out from one another is very easy to do. Opening track “Bushido” is very much in the same style as Constantine’s debut, being a rather speedy, very technical exhibition, meant to showcase his incredible guitar ability. The main riff is great, there are some great melodies in the middle, and of course, the shredding is quite excellent, as well, so it’s just a great instrumental track, overall.
The first track with vocals is “Hellfire Club”, a very hard hitting, modern sounding track with very chunky guitar work, which gives a strong alternative vibe, with maybe slight metalcore elements. Vocals are performed by Björn “Speed” Strid, who alternates nicely between his trademark screams and clean vocals. The track clearly feels like it was written with his voice in mind, and so it definitely has a slight Soilwork feel to it and is a very fun track, overall. Next is “Press On Regardless”, a slow-paced, classic heavy metal track, with some crushing riffs, intense verses, and a nice melodic chorus. Musically, the song very much sounds like Primal Fear, and so it’s no surprise at all that the vocals are sung by Ralf Scheepers, who sounds as powerful and smooth as always.
On the more melodic things, “Another Day” is a rather light melodic metal track, which moves along at a decent pace and has some nice, rather laid back guitar work, with occasional bursts of heaviness, as well as some great vocal melodies. Vocals are performed by former Firewind vocalist Apollo Papathanasio, who sounds very smooth as always while showcasing his voice off nicely. This is one of two tracks with him, the other being “Deliver Us”, a speedy symphonic power metal track, where the keyboards are very prominent and give the track a strong symphonic feel, while the guitars are actually dialed back a fair bit, with vocals, keyboards and speedy drums mostly leading the way. It’s a very melodic track, with an excellent chorus, a great guitar solo in the second half, and excellent vocals from Apollo, to help make it probably my favorite on the album. In between those two tracks is a melodic hard rock power ballad, “Holding on ’til the End”, which alternates nicely between some very soft passages, with nice melodic guitar work, and some slightly heavier passages where the guitar gets a bit more intense, as well as an excellent, very melodic guitar solo in the second half. Vocals are performed by Mutiny Within vocalist Chris Clancy, who delivers a very powerful, emotional performance, helping to nail down an already killer chorus, and he’s definitely the shining star of the track, with some truly amazing vocals throughout.
Nearing the end of the album, “Elegy” is another fairly laid back melodic metal track, with some nice, smooth guitar work, occasional bursts of heaviness, some excellent instrumental work in the second half, and a great chorus. Vocals are performed by bassist/keyboardist Bill Manthos, who has a very soft, fairly deep voice, which suits the track well, and he does a very good job. Closing out the album is “War and Pain”, a fast-paced, all-out thrash assault, with some very intense, aggressive riffs, a vicious, addictive chorus, and some awesome vocals throughout. For this type of sound, it only makes sense that the singer would be Destruction vocalist Schmier, who fits this sound perfectly, and obviously, this is another one of those tracks that feels like it was specifically written for the guest, as it really is exactly what fans of Destruction would expect.
Overall, Aftermath is a great sophomore album for Constantine, with a wide range of styles, featuring some excellent guest performances from a few very well known vocalists. It’s the kind of album that’s hard to recommend to one specific group, because it covers so much territory musically, but obviously fans of any of the guest vocalists should give it a listen, and I think fans of heavy metal, melodic metal, power metal and thrash who are open to a mix of all those styles on one album, should also give the album a listen, as it’s certainly very well made, and it certainly does a great job of appealing to many different people, just due to how varied the songs are.
Written by: Travis Green
My Global Mind – Staff Writer
Travis Green is a Canadian based writer for My Global Mind, with a particular passion for power metal, as well as an interest metal in all its forms.