MILLENNIAL REIGN - The Great Divide
Truth Without The Noise
For those not familiar, Millennial Reign is a Christian, Texas-based, power metal band. They started in 2010, guitarist and song-writer Dave Harvey at the helm, and released their debut in 2012. Their label debut release with Ulterium Records in 2015 – Carry The Fire – brought their fiery melodic power metal sound (heavily influenced by Iron Maiden and Queensryche) to a broader listening audience, and subsequent touring with Stryper, Sonata Arctica and Leaves Eyes helped to promote greater exposure as well. Despite the recent departure of vocalist James Guest and the previous guitarists and drummer, Dave Harvey has “carried the fire” forward with a whole new band. Fans of mid-90’s Christian metal will welcome the addition of Steve Nichols (Godfear, Solitude Aeturnus) on drums. Neil Bertrand (When Angels Die) picks up the bass and Travis Wills (Infidel Rising) commandingly takes over on vocals. I think Wills sounds like a cross of Henrick Bath (Darkwater, Harmony) and Midnight (R.I.P.) from Crimson Glory. Harvey writes the music and Wills the lyrics.
2015’s Carry The Fire was a solid release – the music had a definite Iron Maiden/80’s metal vibe. The sound/styles on The Great Divide don’t swerve too far from that formula, but I would best describe this one as having more of a Euro power metal sound (just slightly symphonic) mixed with a late 80’s U.S. power metal sound (Sacred Warrior, Crimson Glory and Rage/OM era Queensryche). Even though MR aren’t quite as progressive as Theocracy, they do have some overlap with their talented label-mates from Atlanta. These songs enjoy a heavy crunch and a bit more pace compared to the songs from CTF. The keyboard presence remains an important element (nothing in the credits as to who is contributing, but would assume Harvey since he is the main songwriter) and reminds me a bit of the way Sacred Warrior used keys/synths, especially on Master’s Command. The guitars sound great, but don’t expect much solo/shredding. They are scattered strategically throughout, but only to accentuate the melodies. Overall, the sound is a dynamic, powerful and clean mix, but not overly compressed.
I have to say up front I’m not a fan of the “symphonic” instrumental intro “The Genesis.” So many bands do this/have done this within the power metal genre that it has almost become cliché. More importantly, I don’t think it forecasts the kind of metal which follows and the songs stand so well on their own that it just feels superfluous. That aside, “Break The Tide” is a very strong opening track with plenty of cutting guitars, soaring keys and a powerful rhythm on bass/bass drum. This song perfectly introduces Travis Wills vocal style and sets the stage lyrically for all that follows.
“Come alive in Christ discover/freed from debt awaits/break the tides that crash and cover/truth without the noise.”
“More Than Scars” is a fantastic, absolutely inspirational – both musically and lyrically – rocker. I love the triplet-driven, galloping rhythm from Nichols and Bertrand – very powerful song. “Imagine” feels just a slight bit awkward in the phrasing of the melody, but the lyrics are a call to put down gossip/slander in favor of community.
“We’re family and friends/we are neighbors/ the power of the tongue can change us/imagine spreading the kindness/seeking the heart of the Father.”
“Till The End” is another great song filled with truths and encouragements – love the guitar melodies and riffs here. One of the best songs here would have to be “In Your Silence.” This is the most balladic tune here – a nice mix of more open guitar passages with heavier grooving. Think Rage For Order era Queensryche on this one all the way. And this is definitely Wills’ best vocal performance on the release. “The Day The Sun Stood Still” is a cool song based on Joshua 10, nicely chronicling the less famous Joshua battle and victory over the Amorites. Lyrically, this one shoots straight from Scripture. For fans of Operation Mindcrime, “Wounds In Hand” will be like a trip down memory lane. It’s a great song, but the guitar melodies in sections sound maybe just a bit too close to the classic “I Don’t Believe In Love.” I think the song differs enough for sure to stand on its own, but I can’t help but point out the similarities. Regardless, these words may even surpass those of the great Queensryche …
“When guilt takes you hostage and won’t let go/the sickness devours and steals the show/I saw the light bare through/was broken and made new from the power in You.”
And if that’s not enough, the title track finishes in style. The song opens with driving synths, followed by crunchy guitar riffs and a nice mid-tempo rhythm. Despite the fading autumns and cold winters of life it doesn’t end on this side of the divide. This song hearkens back a bit to the Iron Maiden leanings of the previous release (in a good way) and serves as a the perfect conclusion to a really solid power metal showing filled with uplifting, encouraging life observations and truths. The graphic artwork (Jan Yrlund) is superb and the 16 page insert booklet easy to read. Along with the new Sardonyx release, The Great Divide is the most enjoyable and edifying Christian power metal so far in 2018.
Track Listing (47:18):
1. The Genesis (1:10)
2. Break The Tide (5:10)
3. More Than Scars (5:09)
4. Imagine (4:22)
5. Till The End (5:02)
6. In Your Silence (5:26)
7. The Day The Sun Stood Still (4:53)
8. Behind The Time (5:09)
9. Wounds In Hand (5:58)
10. The Great Divide (5:00)