Matt Knowles, the frontman from Royal Anguish, after a long creative hiatus has come out with a new concept album, ‘Heirs Of Isildur’ having two parts, one that of a Novel/Comic series and the album that follows the storyline. I do not have the comic at the moment so I would stick with reviewing the album alone. The conceptual fantasy universe had been long in his mind and took tremendous effort to culminate. The protagonist wakes up one day to find everything he’d ever known, every place, his kinsmen obliterated from the face of the earth, and he’s left alone to make head and tail of the situation and the times to come.
The album is made available through iTunes, Spotify and Amazon was realised on the 1st of December, 2017. There are a bunch of artists who have collaborate on this record, having guest appearances by Corey Steger (Underoath), Cassie Morris (Unicorn Death) and Chris Wicklein (Killing Additction). The album was recorded and mastered at Bonespill Studio by Bryan Exkermann (Scars of the Flesh, Screams of Abaddon). I was appeased when I read the Band’s name and mistook it for the legendary fictional character from Lord of the Rings Novel by Meister John Ronald Reuel Tolkien.
Without further ado lets jump onto the album, which opens up with a Cinematic Monologue “The Discovery Paradox” giving an eerie and hypnotic start to the album and smoothly transitions to a heavier “Murky Waters”. The song ploughs madly onto the double bass with an array of blast beats and supplemented with chunky guitar riffs. I’m guessing Cassie Morris(Guest appearance) gushes in with her shrilling voice adding seconds to the melody as Matt flairs up his guitar with breathtaking solo. The song ends dramatically leading us onto “Shiver”, a well-crafted song with complex arrangement with in your face blast beats is sure to leave a ring in your ears.
“Crossroads” pulls of a melodic intro and gradually kicks off to a heavier and glorious beat, with abrupt juggles between screaming and clean vocals. A blitzing guitar solo awaits which effortlessly traverses back to the main rhythm. Following the footsteps of its predecessors “Remnants” and “Endless Winter” have somewhat formulaic written all over it, and with time I come to realize that there is very little experimentation done on the drums, although “Endless Winter” makes up for it with an interesting outro, and “Remnants” has a memorable beautiful piano piece leading upto a stunning guitar solo.
“Transcendence” starts off with a haunting electronica with plenty of ambient music layering to form the base for the song and a rumbling bass slides in which complements the eerie setup. A pounding and meaty guitar riff paves the way to “Lovelorn Betrayal” but much of it is formulaic and so I move on to “A Startling Divergence”. With off-beat guitar chugs, maddening and guttural growls coupled with an insane drive on the guitars (which keeps varying in volume for some reason) makes this song a complete roller-coaster ride.
“Foundation of Fallacy” surprises you with a beautiful piano interlude, “Syndrome (Degrade Devour Destroy)” rushes in with marching rhythm and brings on rugged yet eclectic guitar riffs as it progresses on with death metal screams written all over it. Be it for the high pitched screams or syncing blast beats, this makes for the heaviest track on the album. We end this album with “From the Depths” which has a plethora of musical moods imbibed within, a rip roaring guitar solo that just is so monochromatically irrelevant but makes for an interesting end to an interesting album.
Production : I wasn’t impressed with the mixing, as I could hear abrupt volume and gain increases on the song. The layering wasn’t good, as it just muffled the sound rather than making it stand out.
Conclusion: This debut concept album is promising with its unique USP of having artwork (Comic/Novel) linked to it. I’m sure I would have loved it even more had I got the comics in front of me. Alas! I’ll give it a read in the future. Keep up the good work.
Written by: Ankit Sood
1) The Discovery Paradox (Intro)
2) Murky Waters
5) Endless Winter
8) Lovelorn Betrayal
9) A Startling Divergence
10) Foundation of Fallacy
11) Syndrome (Degrade Devour Destroy)
12) From The Depths
Matt Knowles– Vocals/Guitar/Drums/Bass
Record Label: Whysper Kings Publishing, Dec. 2017
Lyric video for ‘Crossroads’ feat. Cassie Morris
Lyric Video: ‘Shiver’