Friday, January 18, 2013

Jacob's Dream - Drama of the Ages (2005)

Who are Jacob's Dream? I cannot remember when - or even why - I bought this album, but it has the distinction of being the only CD in my collection by an artist beginning with "J". I presume it was acquired on a "lets-browse-the-music-store-and-choose-some-bands-to-listen-to". It's also obviously a clearance line - having a hole bored through the barcode on the back cover (and a big crease through it - grrr).

And it's actually pretty good.

The vocals are strong - sort of a mix between Deliverance and Queensryche. Not a description that will help many people (since Deliverance are moderately obscure). Let's just say - higher pitch intermingled with some quite sexy lower vocals and a touch of a raw edge.

The genre is probably somewhere around power metal and progressive, the later aided by the zippy synth sound that beckons us in to the first track. Let's see what they call themselves (to wikipedia!).

Hrm, they are a Christian band - which would explain the vocals, if all Christian metal bands had to sound like Deliverance. Maybe they draw their inspiration from the same sources (well, of course they do lyrically, but I'm talking, musically).

The name should have been a tip-off - it relates to the Book of Genesis.

Well, let us not judge them by their religion, but by the quality of their music. It seems a little odd to me that Christian Metal bands kind of get pushed away to play in the corner, and don't get to hang out with the other bands, and most of them are pretty obscure - after discovering a Christian metal show on a local (community) radio station I collected a selection of songs, and then spent ages trying to work out who "Crestive Ox" were. Turned out it was "Crystavox." Also, a several years mystery over a song called "Little Secrets" that eventually turned out to be by Christian Metal band, Sacred Warrior.

Anyhow, enough exposition, let's start the dissection.

The zippy synth beckons us in to the title track "Drama of the Ages". The chorus is nice and catchy, the lyrics, whilst of course being God-orientated don't seem to be preaching to me (always a plus), indeed, their lyrics read more as fantasy than religion.

"Keeper of the Crown" follows it up. Vocalist Chaz Bond has a strong voice, powerful. I'm starting to see why I bought this album.

"Spinning Leaf" starts as a slower number, and Bond displays the true wealth of his low, rich vocals. Good sound, stirs something deep inside me. I like. A lot. Alas, it doesn't last for the whole song. Oh well, maybe I'll get to hear more of it later. Like the chorus.

"Stand or Fall" has more of the same vocals - including some moderately impressive long notes. I think this is one of the things I liked about Deliverance - the low, sexy vocals the singer occasionally exhibited. But Jacob's Dream do it better.

The pounding and slightly aggressive "Tempest" seems to follow a story of  good vs evil - I can only imagine that the low menacing voice is supposed to be the Devil:

"Where is your God? What are you thinking? Call to him louder; Perhaps he's asleep, maybe he's laughing... You're such a fool! It's been quite a  while, leave him in peace..."
Can we have a ballad please? I think one would be beautiful, thanks ^^

No? Another pounding heavy one again - "Third Way" does have a nifty chorus, vocally. Lyrics are more political than religious -
"A socialist Utopia, equality for all. The ruling elite exempt themselves from the cruel reality."
 Despite having lyrics printed, "Forever Winter" seems to be an instrumental, with the words not starting until almost 4 minutes into the song. "Always winter, never Christmas..." interesting... Isn't that a quote from Narnia or something?

"Drowning Man" finally lets us mellow down a little - at least at first, with its twangy, twiddly guitar and low, croning vocals, but the bass starts a pounding and the guitars pick up rhythm, chug-chug-chugging into full guitar mode and I am cheated of my ballad, with such a wicked little teaser.

"Deceiver of the Nations" is more of the same - variable vocals (maybe the backing vocals are playing a more important role here?), churning guitars. Melodic, yes, but somewhat same-ish after a time.

Love the last verse of "Cutting Words" - very sexy low voice, almost Sisters of Mercy terrain here, almost goth. I'd love to hear more of it.

"Victory" is another churning and heavy song.

The concluding track "At the Gates" seems to start with either a riot or a battle, I'm guessing the second. Alas, it is more of the same as the preceeding tracks and the album concludes without a ballad to speak of. There IS a very nice instrumental piece, buried several minutes after the final song, which is rather pleasing to listen to.

Overall, I highly rate the vocals, and enjoy the sound, but I wish for more of the low and sexy and less of the raw-edged and higher pitched. Lyrically, it was pretty good. Sure, there is a lot of godliness in the lyrics, but I'm okay with that - there was no telling me I'm burning in Hell for not believing, something which really does bug me in the Christian music genre.

I rate this album 7/10 and I believe it will improve on later listenings, when I get to know the songs a wee bit better.

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