DENY THE FALLEN - Symptoms of Eternity
Unless you have been hiding under a rock, you probably already know that Deny the Fallen is the new band featuring Rey Parra of Sacred Warrior, and more recently, Worldview fame. Also featured in this lineup is another Sacred Warrior alumni, Jonathan Johnson, with this marking their first time collaborating since 1991's Obsession release. Joining them for this release is Josh Johnson (drums), Harbor Horton (Rhythm guitars), and Erik Kyr (bassist).
To be totally honest, upon first listen, I was a little taken aback by the sound, and not all that favorably initially. I think this was due to two main factors. First, I am primarily a traditional and melodic metal fan. Second, I was approaching this with my ears geared in a preconceived manner, expecting more of a higher, soaring vocal approach similar to those found on Rey's work with Sacred Warrior and Worldview, but that is not what I got at all. Instead, we are barraged with a band creating a huge wall of sound very much of a more modern metal sound, with much lower and aggressive vocals.
After a few listens, my musical senses had adjusted to the point where I began more and more to enjoy what I was being hit with. So! Word to the wise — do not approach this like me. Ignore the fact that you know the past history of any band members, and look at this as simply a new unknown band.
What we have here is a really heavy, hard rocking album. Not heavy like in super fast, thrash, or extreme metal in any sense, but just really well done, full-speed ahead power and crunch. It is deep, aggressive and angry sounding metal with a message. The vocals, as mentioned, are octaves deeper than normal, and more of a grit and gravel sounding power, with the occasional added second growl vocals here and there. Musically it is filled with heavy riffs, shredding leads, and a totally kicking rhythm section to hold it all together.
We do occasionally get small tastes and bits scattered throughout that let us know the old Rey is on vocals, or when things slow down some (Hands for War / Shelter), but for the most part it is as if Rey has reinvented himself into a modern metal voice with an axe to grind. Add to that the fact the band is laying down layer upon layer of total heaviness, and we are presented with a new modern metal band to take pride in.
I found it interesting that after multiple listens and having this review done basically, I then noticed a quote in their press kit, and it clicked exactly with everything I was hearing and have been trying to state here.
Johnson stated in a recent interview about their upcoming debut release: "What I’ve set out to do is difficult. We made a completely modern metal album that won’t get labeled Nu Metal, that sounds polished and raw at the same time. We wanted the music super heavy, yet melodic and hooky all at once. Not to mention, I'm taking an iconic vocalist and shattering what everyone would expect of him and adding a second lead vocalist with him, creating a completely different sound. It was an uphill battle trying to achieve all of those things and do it in a way that people would receive it. I was expecting 10% of people (the old school Sacred Warrior fans) to hear me and Rey doing something different and also Rey singing with someone else. I figured some people would get offended by that or upset by that. Yet, I’ve only seen 2, maybe 3 comments probably in the last 4 months."
Predator and Murder Machine are good examples of heaviness and a metal unlike we've heard Rey on before, while for me the standout cuts are songs like Razin Kane and Symptoms of Eternity. Younger listeners not as familiar or prejudiced by the history of Rey's previous work, and maybe even those who did not like the styling of his prior work, should find this offering to be a breath of fresh metal air. Eleven songs, clocking in at 47 minutes, gives us a good solid amount of metal - not too much, not too little.
This debut release sports a couple special guests including BRUCE SWIFT (Sacred Warrior), and OZ FOX from the legendary hard rock quartet Stryper. Though these guests have been noted icons of some of the best music coming from the 80s and 90s, Johnson states, “This is not the driving force behind SYMPTOMS. We set out to make something 2018 and this doesn’t sound 80s at all. I didn’t want it to sound like Korn or one of those bands. I wanted to have elements of all the classic music. I wanted to bring our roots into it, but use those colors in a completely different way than we used to use them. I added them in where people who are accustomed to that era of music expect it and are going to hear it. It’s going to jump out in flashes. It is not going to be the driving force behind the sound because it sounds completely modern. The other thing I wanted to do was take all of the elements of metal, be it death metal, extreme power metal, speed metal, melodic and such, and blend it together. I don’t have any one song all that way. I like the breakdown in MURDER MACHINE. That's a perfect example. It is a traditional death metal breakdown (the speed metal 64th note riffs and such) making a modern sound and throwing hints of traditional metal that could have been heard on a Slayer record. Throwing that in there like a flash and then going back away from it. Again, we wanted to pay homage to where we came from.”
Track Listing for SYMPTOMS OF ETERNITY
2. Mortem Amici (Friendship Dies)
3. Hands For War (Featuring OZ FOX from Stryper) 4. Symptoms Of Eternity
6. Murder Machine
7. Razin' Kane (theme song for Monster Jam truck- Razin Kane) 8. Shelter
10. Burning The World (feat BRUCE SWIFT from Sacred Warrior)
11. Death Rattle
So, what can people expect from this debut release? Johnson stated: "There is a whole different atmosphere on each individual song. They all have a life on their own and they all have their own level of intensity and message as well. I think when someone plays this album from song 1 to song 11, they’re going to be shocked. I feel there are very few records once every four to six years. Maybe once a decade, you will get an album in the rock world that every song on it can stand on its own. Where every song can be a single. There is no filler material or B sides or anything like that. That’s been the overall concensus of this record. This record truly is the grace of God. It is God raining down creativity and He opened the heavens over us and said "Here you go. There are a lot of accolades that are being used regarding this album. Yet it’s so much more than just the music. There are a lot of talented artists within the Christian industry. Bands from top to bottom. Talent really doesn’t have a lot to do with it. It’s about divine ability and grace coming on you. There was a grace that came upon us to write this album. I felt like I was riding a huge tsunami wave as we were asking for inspiration, and that goes beyond talent. Did we put in the time? Absolutely! But the level of the strength of the songs and the quality of the album I have to attribute to the Holy Spirit. I’ve never had a writing experience like this. It was like a soundtrack in my head downloading like a prolific writing experience. I’ve never experienced anything like this in my music career."