A late arrival makes my No 1 album of 2012 - Trail of Murder
Date: December 27, 2012 10:51PM

It’s had a small thread here dedicated to it , appeared in 2 or 3 “Best of 2012” lists and Andrew gave it a good little mini-review but I think the new (debut) album by Trail of Murder – Shades of Art- deserves a bit more chat than it’s getting. Can't say I've written much in the way of reviews but I decided to quickly write something about this one.

Before I go on I’ll address the issue of classification – for the purposes of this review I’m not bothering with what’s power metal, heavy metal, prog metal etc......... if most people would consider it metal and it’s melodic then I’ll call them all melodic metal and up for comparison. This album is certainly metal and very melodic – no doubts there.

My album of 2011 was the brilliant s/t disc from Shy and it was very similar to Trail of Murder in that I only discovered it late in the year and it was something unexpected..........and received only a 80%-ish review from many , thus rated well below many discs I felt were far inferior.

Although the Shy album may not be metal it was quite heavy in parts and had qualities that are oh so rare these days – it was one of very few albums released in 2011 that I could listen to from start to finish without skipping a track , the songs (while not anything ground breaking) were very fresh and a cut above anything else that I’d heard and the album didn’t fade with time – it just kept getting better and better. After living with Trail of Murder for a week or so – and playing it into the ground – I can say with confidence that it’s just the same. It gets better and better with every listen. No album in 2012 has received the amount of play and retained my attention like this one has – only HEAT and Van Halen come within sight of it. I rate the VH highly as they’re my favourite band ever and produced a much better effort than expected but there’s no getting away from the fact that I have played Trail of Murder much more.

I know that Andrew and many others feel that 2012 has been a great year for music but I struggle more and more to find new music that grabs me and especially a CD with more than a couple of decent tracks................even more so in the area of heavy rock/melodic metal where that’s been the case for some time. Aside from classics like Operation Mindcrime , Images and Words , In Your Multitude (Conception),Gutter Ballet/In The Hall Of the Mountain King, DC Cooper solo etc..... I’ve most often found that my favourite melodic metal artists tend to have 2-4 strong tracks per disc and the rest I can take or leave. For the record some of my favourite artists of the genre , other than those already mentioned and in no particular order, would be Crimson Glory, Metal Church,Testament, Circle 2 Circle, PC69, Pretty Maids, Stratovarius, At Vance,Nocturnal Rites, Helloween, Millenium,Thunderstone,Elegy, Tad Morose, Symphony X, Saint Daemon, Within Temptation, After Forever.............all of whom are capable of brilliant songs but only rarely completely brilliant albums.

Trail of Murder is the new vehicle for vocalist Urban breed and I gotta say I think I’ve found a new favourite metal frontman. Rounding out the core of the band are Daniel Olsson and Pelle Akerlind , both alumni from Urban breed’s previous bands Tad Morose and Bloodbound and both very strong musicians. Up until this album I don’t feel that Urban breed has had an outlet that truly displayed his vocal talents to the max – like most melodic metal albums in my collection there was always something missing – whether it be enough consistently good tracks , a below par guitarist , muddy production etc...... To this point I think the best of his performances have been Tad Morose: Modus Vivendi and Bloodbound’s Tabula Rasa – both great albums but still just missing something for me. In particular the Tad Morose had the potential to be great disc with a less muddy production.

Shades of Art just ticks all the boxes. Strong songs throughout , strong musicianship, crystal clear production and a masterful vocal performance. Like the Shy album I hear influences from many of my favourite artists all over the place but it never sounds derivative – just the ideal combination of the best elements of the best in the business. The versatility of Urban breed’s vocal talent is striking – he somehow combines the best of many of the genre’s best vocalists into one package. Think the power of Leven/Zak Stevens/Hartmann , the feeling/range of Midnight/Khan and the aggressive snarl of Mike Howe. The lyrical content isn’t obvious in meaning a lot of the time , but is cleverly written with enough of an aggressive edge to add to the dark atmosphere of the music.

Track by track:

1) Shades of Art: Title track and a huge opener that’s more commercial than most of the other tracks. Heavy, chunky riffing and a massive chorus in the vein of the more commercial rockers from Nocturnal Rites, Saint Daemon, Thunderstone. Brilliant and a cut above. The higher key post guitar solo somehow takes it to another level. One of many “song of the year” contenders on this disc.

2) Carnivore: Has to be another contender for song of the year – a menacing riff, booming bass and vocals dripping with aggression , but still very melodic...........I’ll take a long shot and guess that this song is directed at a former band member that didn’t want to break out of his comfort zone/routine “cut the crap and roll the dice” and contribute to Urban’s vision for the music.

3) Lady Don’t Answer: The third track in the peerless 1,2,3 punch that opens this album – I can’t think of a better first 3 tracks on any melodic metal album outside of Images and Words. Like the opener it features an aggressive verse with a huge melodic chorus and a step up in key to take the song to another level towards the end.

4) Mab : If I was to leave one track off to make this album close to perfect this would be it. Nothing really wrong with it and with a tweak here or there I think it could’ve been great. A fast paced song with a very catchy pre-chorus followed by a relatively flat chorus left this song feeling incomplete.

5) I Know Shadows: A slower more atmospheric song that reminded me a bit of Parry fronted Elegy – not quite in the same league as the opening 3 but yet another great track.

6) Your Silence: Wow! Any fan of Conception in their prime circa In Your Multitude needs to hear this. Nuff said. A slightly slower and more commercial sounding track than many on the album but no less powerful.

7) Higher: Not one of the best tracks but a very solid up tempo rocker and at the very least serves as a vehicle for Urban to show off his awesome range.

8) The Song You Never Sang: Another crushing riff driving an atmospheric song that again brings Conception to mind – strong track.

9) Nightmares I Stole: Brilliant song that channels Crimson Glory at their heavy best – more beautiful (if cryptic) lyrics and the chorus with the main line “My dreams are nightmares I stole” delivered with that classic Metal Church snarl. One of my favourites that matches it with the brilliant opening 3 and Your Silence.

10) Child Of Darkest Night: Solid mid tempo track that , whilst not a stand out song in the context of this album , features a solo section with a rhythm that goes on a tangent – something I used to love in Criss Oliva’s playing and this is a great example. I shouldn’t rave over Urban breed’s vocals on this album at the expense of the guitar work – it’s top notch throughout. This track is a bit of a rest for the senses after the onslaught of the last few tracks.

11) Some Stand Alone : Back to full intensity and another crunching rhythm with an awesome aggressive vocal......a relentless song that rocks from start to finish and goes up a key at the end. Intense!

12) My Heart Still Cries: A slower plodding riff and if there’s such a thing as a ballad on this album then this is it. A more delicate vocal in parts that leads into an aggressive pre-chorus and nice melodic chorus. Another fantastic song to finish.

** Andrew mentioned a track called Not For The Faint of Heart in his review but I cannot find any reference to that anywhere???

I’ve referenced plenty of other bands in this review – not because this feels plagiarised in any way but in order to give a benchmark here and there of the quality of the material and performances. Urban breed has had trouble staying in the one band for any length of time for various reasons – this is the first time he’s really done his own thing with the people he wanted and I believe this band is to be his number one priority going forward. Presumably this has something to do with the outstanding songs and big step up in quality of production from his previous bands. I understand that this album was in the can long before its release too so I look forward with great anticipation to more material.in the not too distant future.

This album sits comfortably alongside classics of the genre . Aside from the aforementioned Van Halen and HEAT albums I had trouble finding an album worth 85%+ in 2012. I haven’t had time to properly digest the Adler or Halestorm albums yet which may well get a high rating and honourable mentions to Tango Down and a couple of others. I haven't yet heard Lionville but wasn't rapt in the first. Other big releases like Eclipse got mid 70's from me.

An album with so much going for it and so few weak points - I give Trail Of Murder's Shades of Art 95% ... the same as I gave Shy in 2011. A classic and an album that had its rating increased each time I spun it again until about the 4th listen.

Here’s a link to a teaser of a few of the best tracks and then the song Nightmares I Stole, another of my favourites.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/28/2012 12:27AM by the ORIGINAL brent.

Navigate: Previous MessageNext Message
Options: ReplyQuote

SubjectViewsWritten ByPosted
A late arrival makes my No 1 album of 2012 - Trail of Murder1279 the ORIGINAL brent 12/27/2012 10:51PM
Re: A late arrival makes my No 1 album of 2012 - Trail of Murder 457 Braddy 12/27/2012 11:17PM
Re: A late arrival makes my No 1 album of 2012 - Trail of Murder 331 Braddy 12/28/2012 07:19AM
Re: A late arrival makes my No 1 album of 2012 - Trail of Murder 452 jaysw 12/28/2012 12:04AM
Re: A late arrival makes my No 1 album of 2012 - Trail of Murder 468 Kamelot Dude 12/28/2012 12:10AM
Re: A late arrival makes my No 1 album of 2012 - Trail of Murder 428 Figge 12/28/2012 02:17AM
Re: A late arrival makes my No 1 album of 2012 - Trail of Murder 317 Mox1970 12/30/2012 02:55AM
Re: The reason this site is one of the best out there.... 307 dogga 01/04/2013 08:26AM

Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.
Powered by Phorum.

Disclaimer: melodicrock.com takes no responsibility for the contents of messages posted on this open forum, or for the sanity of those posting.