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Review: Onward - Evermoving

Label: Century Media Records
Year released: 2001
Duration: 38:07
Tracks: 8
Genre: Heavy Metal

Rating: 4/5

Review online: August 29, 2003
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Readers Rating

Rated 3.19/5 (63.75%) (16 Votes)

Bands that just play good, straight-up metal without frills or gimmicks are getting harder to come by these days. Even the trend of sounding like a band from the 80's is turning into a kind of gimmick. What's refreshing about Onward is they play straight-ahead heavy metal with no keyboards, female vocals or other stigmata, and they do not sound retro or 80's at all. This was their first release, originally on Sentinel Steel records, but when the band was offered a better deal by Century Media, Steelman Denis Gulbey let them go, no strings attached. Never has anybody proven more clearly that they are a true fan by putting their artists above their own profit.

Pinpointing Onward can be hard, because they don't sound like anyone else much at all. There are some prog-metal influences in the stylish guitar work of Toby Knapp, most notably a few similarities to later Fates Warning (you know, after they became fates warning.) But the resemblance is just passing. Knapp is a fine player, but he does not engage in Yngwie-style wanking, instead using his skill to spool out technical but extremely tasty riffs. The guitar sound is dry but chunky, with a nice crisp edge. The riffs cascade out one after another, never doing the obvious or clichéd thing, and Knapp, as a player, is just fun to listen to. You never know what he'll play next, but it's always cool. Vocalist Micheal Grant has a fine, smooth tenor that carries some very fine vocal melodies. Sometimes he tries to cram in too many words and the vocal lines become too busy for their own good, but when he gets more room to breathe he can really sing. "Waterfall Enchantress", "Onward" and "Storm Coming Soon" come together nicely, all the elements making for some highly enjoyable music.

The CD package is very nice, with cool cover art by the awesome Iaonnes (formerly of 3rd Image – the guy who painted the cover for Fates Warning's "Awaken the Guardian") The lyrics are included and are pretty good, if sometimes a bit unclear.

This is a very good CD, and fans of Iced Earth, Blind Guardian, and later Fates Warning will eat this up. Onward are a band doing things their own way, not following the eurometal flavor of the week, and bands like that deserve respect. So nice to see an American band that can do it right, Onward get a thumbs up.

Other related information on the site
Review: Evermoving (2014) (reviewed by MetalMike)
Review: Of Epoch and Inferno (reviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)
Review: Reawaken (reviewed by Christian Renner)
Review: Reawaken (2014) (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
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