Distant Sun - Into the Nebula
Thrash/Power Metal
10 songs (52' 57")
Release year: 2016
Reviewed by Andy

Haven't satisfied your craving for Black In Mind-era Rage, even after last year's release? Russian Shadow Host side project Distant Sun is here to help again with that little problem. Like Peavey Wagner, Alexey Markov's rough voice continues to strike a nice balance between power-metal beauty and thrash metal asskicking, and the band's songwriting is just as energetic as their influence's; I was headbanging by the second song.

Everything good from Dark Matter made it into Into the Nebula. The references to sci-fi and fantasy pop culture such as George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series and Frank Herbert's Dune books are back, and even though Markov's preference is for a rough growl at most times, he has a decent range when taking his choruses into major-key power metal territory. Another thing to appreciate is that the guitar riffing takes second place to the songwriting and melody, which doesn't always happen when the band's being led by a guitarist. Any indulgence in guitar-oriented songwriting comes in its rightful place on the mid-tempo but gorgeous instrumental Andromeda, a display of virtuosity in both the guitar work and the tune. The lovely melodies, however, do not admit of any softness or delicacy, and any tendencies towards the latter are nipped in the bud by the smoothly mixed but loud drumming, which is more often than not found closely in the vicinity of the double-kick pedal.

Almost all the time, this comes off without a hitch; Rage worship rarely misses its mark even in clumsy hands, and Distant Sun's veteran musicians are nothing if not skilled. The biggest imperfections are accidental and born of the band's desire to convey the mood of their sci-fi themes to the listener at all costs. An example of that is Inspired by Fear's voice-overs from Dune, which disfigure a song whose melody for once falls flat -- but such missteps are rare. The Battle That Never Ends, a pure homage to Game of Thrones, effortlessly evokes an epic atmosphere despite being no longer or heavier than the rest of the songs on the album, and its successor speeds the pace of the album back up to the headbanging speed that listeners will desire most. There's even a stab at Blind Guardian-style fantasy bombast on a couple of the later tracks, which doesn't achieve the high level of over-the-top metal opera that such a band is capable of, but still results in songs worthy of any of the 80s greats.

Distant Sun bills this foray as an attempt at European melody with American aggression, though I can't see the American influence myself. Maybe they mean the bonus track, in which, for fun, they try to write an 80s-style pop metal song along the lines of something by Motley Crue, the resulting tune sounding, to my ears, about as American as a bowl of borscht. But regardless of where Into the Nebula draws its aggression from, it certainly has it in spades; enough aggression, in fact, to make this one of the heaviest power metal albums I've heard from 2016. Fans of the great European heavy and power metal groups of the 80s, take note and pick this one up.

Bandcamp: https://metalism.bandcamp.com/album/into-the-nebula.

Killing Songs :
All except Inspired by Fear
Andy quoted 88 / 100
Other albums by Distant Sun that we have reviewed:
Distant Sun - Dark Matter reviewed by Andy and quoted 86 / 100
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