THUNDER AND LIGHTNING – In Charge of the Scythe
A German melodic metal act with strong power/traditional tendencies, the appropriately named Thunder and Lightning release their fourth full length studio album "In Charge of the Scythe". For my first exposure to this act I’m really impressed with their blend of engaging guitar riffs and melodies, the unique mid-range vocal parts from Norman Dittmar and this cultural feel permeating most of the 11 tracks.
Guitarists Benjamin Dammrich and Marc Wustenhagen combine a bevy of European power and classic metal styles, offering a wide array of harmony and point/ counterpoint riff options. Some of their best work takes place on "Wheel of Life" where you will hear strains of Gamma Ray meets Dream Evil, the follow up "The Last Rite" as the duo open with some eerie clean echo parts before ramping up the energy into more of a semi-thrash meets Rage/ Brainstorm blitzkrieg riff montage and the more culturally charged "Soldier’s Tired Eyes" in which you’ll hear some stunning shred and emotive lead break work. Drummer Steve Mittag and bassist Robert Rath have no trouble holding down their bottom end and rhythmic duties- unsung heroes in a style that you need strong musicians to deliver the goods consistently.
Does everything hit the mark? Well, bands like this close in on the cheesy side when they approach a semi-ballad like "Two Sons in My Sky" with all the pomp and symphonic background circumstance in its opening 2 minutes- only to turn on the electric afterburners to bring this up to classy status. The closing 7:16 "Shadowlight" ends the album on a high note, Norman’s Peavy-esque meets Kai Hansen vocal delivery along with the musical power sure to charge up crowds when this material is aired live.
Thunder and Lightning lives up to the name, and I know this German act will have faithful followers who love their strong harmonic/ cultural approach. Count me firmly in this brigade with "In Charge of the Scythe".