Reviews from "The Final Stage"Review Femforgacs 09.06.21 - Posted in The Final Stage reviews Review by Armand
The history of NWOBHM and Swiss progressive metal band Distant Past goes back to the not so distant past. Formed around the turn of the millennium, the five-piece from Bern have been working under the auspices of German Pure Steel Records since their second album (Utopian Void - 2014). The band, who have been struggling with member changes in recent years, released their new album The Final Stage at the end of March, which immediately catches the eye and not least the imagination with its futuristic cover, its buildings and the back-turning figure of the scavenger. Without knowing the lyrics, I can't tell whether a concept album was made at the Swiss base, but that's not particularly significant.
The category that metal-archives has put the band in, progressive/melodic heavy metal, has hit the nail on the head this time. The exact genre accurately describes the songs performed by the five musicians in just over forty minutes. One could argue that no one has been more forward-thinking since Images and Words (Dream Theater), who come up with elaborate metal music spiced up with instrumental showmanship. If you approach it from that direction, you really can't find any new paths in Distant Past's music. But for this kind of music, the literature has not yet come up with a more appropriate term than progressive, so this turn of the genre is out of the question for me. The melodic adjective is also appropriate, as the instrumentalists and vocalist Jvo Julmy have tried to come up with memorable melodies. And the basics are the usual and expected beating metal themes from the German label's bands. The ten songs on The Final Stage are an exercise in style. One only has to look at the song titles, which are framed by a variation of the basic genre vocabulary. I'll let you in on no particular secret by saying that the music itself is just that.
The opener Kill The Dragon has nothing to do with the title track of the 2002 DIO album, the Swiss album opener pulsates like an early Saxon composition, and singer Jvo brings his soaring themes to life brilliantly, the multi-round guitar solo is well developed. And the simple chorus locks in from the first listen. The blandly riffing Staring At The Stars is another chorus-centric tune with a dominant hard rock flavour. Queen Of Sin is fist-pumping, mid-tempo Germanic metal, with the inescapable Accept influence in this line, topped with another proper guitar solo. An analysis of the other songs would lead to the discovery of similar elements, the prog flavour is felt in a Jacobs Dream, Divine Regale kind of way on some of the compositions, with Distant Past never focusing on the technical presentation. Among the other songs, a highlight is The Power Of Evil, reminiscent of Judas Priest in the early 80s, where Jvo brings the Halfordian highs, and the epic structure of Dawn City, which is introduced after the title track, which acts as a segue.
Distant Past's fresh disc thus adds nothing to the image of European melodic heavy metal that has been established for decades, but it doesn't take anything away from it. The obligatory elements are here, "only", like their contemporaries, the individual taste is what is missing, but it is up to the listener to decide what is enough for whom.