|Review: Intense - As Our Army Grows|
|As Our Army Grows|
Label: Napalm Records
Year released: 2007
Genre: Power Metal
Review online: June 26, 2009
Reviewed by: Bruce Dragonchaser
for:As Our Army Grows
It's frankly impossible not to admire Intense's credibility. Hiding under the hood of ‘British Power Metal', Sean Hetherington and his legion of metal warriors squeezed themselves through the gap of obscurity in order to sign with latest label Napalm and release their long awaited second full length; aptly titled As Our Army Grows, now way back in 2007. And since we haven't heard a peep from them since, it goes without saying that what they were hoping was a new beginning turned out to be a commercial debacle. Dark, brooding, and perturbing, this album continues to vary the apocalyptic themes initiated on their 2004 debut Second Sight, whilst liberating the band from the genre's cheerful stereotype. Incorporating elements of Iced Earth, Nevermore and Twelfth Gate, Intense are indeed a breath of fresh air, and despite having to live in the shadow of genre-usurpers DragonForce, they have at least created a piece of work worthy of the public's admiration.
Perhaps not as aggressive or intense as I'd like, there are some quality cuts to digest here. The pervasive atmospherics of "Mirror Shroud" and the menacing barrage of "Anger of the Ancients" encompass the band's flair for musical integrity, whilst "Temptress" and "You Die Today" illustrate passion and individuality in the form of harmonic leads and some stout legwork from the percussion section. Karl Groom (Mr. Threshold) has done an admirable job on the production as always, and as you'd expect, all instrumentation is on the money; paving the way for some seriously technical guitar work, and back-to-back Maiden-esque harmonies. Hetherington's vocals are commendable enough, opting for the Matt Barlow growl as apposed to sky-rocketing falsetto, which is fine for the most part; although maybe more force and conviction behind the notes would be advised to truly capture the essence of intensity the band are trying to purvey.
Still, Intense have made one hell of a jump here. Without lacking spirit or enthusiasm, As Our Army Grows is a battering mass of sonic Heavy Metal, a no-frills blast of British steel that'll please any number of headbanging enthusiasts - which is at least better than what Iced Earth are propagating these days.
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