Cain's Offering - Gather The Faithful
European Power Metal
10 songs (45:43)
Release year: 2009
Reviewed by Elias
Surprise of the month

Cain’s Offering was one of my most anticipated releases of the year. A supergroup set up by Jani Liimatainen, former guitarist for my favourite power metal band Sonata Arctica, and source of countless hours spent in devotional awe at the technique, inventiveness and emotionality delivered by his guitar solos, was bound to be good. My expectations grew when I discovered that Jani had enlisted Mikko Härkin, the keyboardist responsible for the melodic delight that was Sonata Arctica’s Silence, as a bandmate; never mind the prestigious name of Timo Kotipelto of Stratovarius on vocals and Jukka Koskinen of Norther and Wintersun on bass. Furthermore, Jani was to be entirely responsible for the songwriting, something that had only been witnessed once during his career with Sonata, when he wrote My Selene for the Reckoning Night album. Hopes were very high indeed.

Unfortunately, when I first heard the album, I was somewhat disappointed. I had built up a new Ecliptica in my mind, entirely forgetting that Liimatainen had had little or nothing to do with the actual songwriting. I needed to readjust, to abandon my preconceived judgement, in order to appreciate Gather The Faithful for what Liimatainen intended it to be. Far from being the reincarnation of Ecliptica, Cain’s Offering is power metal, pure and simple. It’s not trying to break any barriers; it’s not trying to find a new approach. Simply a collection of excellent musicians creating true and tested metal, managing to dodge the insidious pitfall of the generic and cliché.

The record starts off with My Queen Of Winter, a blast of traditional power metal, with a melodic theme being driven by galloping percussion and rhythm section. Liimatainen’s virtuoso playing is not explicitly apparent immediately, although a careful listen to the rhythm guitar playing will reveal a very capable musician, as fans of his previous work will know him to be. The song has a very conservative structure, verse-bridge-chorus-verse, emphasis on melody in the chorus, with the occasional instrumental thrown in for diversity’s sake. More Than Friends is slightly more riff-driven, although the guitar still plays a relatively subdued role, and the structure is equally conservative. On Oceans of Regret and Morpheus In Masquerade Liimatainen turns his hand to a slightly more complex attempt at composition. Ballad-like singing is interspersed with epic instrumental riffs, although the overall melody line is a tad repetitive. However, the instrumental bits are, to avoid overstatement, fucking awesome.

It does not take long, however, for the weakest point of the album to become painfully apparent. Kotipelto’s voice is grating, his altos sound uncomfortably forced, and the overall impression is one of uninspired boredom. His voice is almost entirely devoid of passion, and makes listening to the songs more of a chore than they should be. Luckily Liimatainen has seen fit to include an entire eponymous instrumental piece, which is one of the best songs from the album. Kotipelto’s voice performs slightly better on the ballads, like Into The Blue and Elegantly Broken, while on faster pieces like Dawn Of Solace and Stolen Waters the listener would do better to focus on the instrumentation, which is consistently excellent.

Another gripe (although less serious) is the infrequency of solos, and their brevity upon appearance. Jani has been guilty of this before- his work with Altaria was also equally solo-less (although Altaria was nowhere near as good as Cain’s Offering, not to mention stylistically entirely different). As I mentioned before, Jani’s solos on the Sonata Arctica records were some of the best in the history of power metal, and Mikko’s work on Silence was almost equally superb. His focus on melody and riffs might have been a conscious choice, and probably serves the overall product to a better effect, but still, I’m pretty disappointed. I’ll be waiting for Jani to explain his choice, along with the absurd disco beats (I kid you not) during the first verse of Thorn In My Side. I know Jani had a (fortunately) brief stint as “DJ Penetrator”, but this is ridiculous.

The lyrics are unremarkable, extremely easy to overlook, and Kotipelto doesn’t have one of the cleanest dictions in metal. They serve their purpose in providing something for him to sing, but nothing really stands out. Stick to composing, Jani, and let someone else write the lyrics. The production also sounds a little dull. The guitars are very artificial and subdued, and the entire atmosphere comes across as flat, missing the dynamic possibilities with a more individual production. This is a very minor flaw, however.

So, while a slight disappointment due to inordinately high hopes, Gather The Faithful is an excellent album, and shows great potential for the future of this band. Here’s to a new Finnish phenomenon!

Killing Songs :
My Queen Of Winter, Oceans Of Regret, Gather The Faithful, Dawn Of Solace, Elegantly Broken
Elias quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Cain's Offering that we have reviewed:
Cain's Offering - Stormcrow reviewed by Joel and quoted 88 / 100
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