Faustian Mass was very difficult to get a grasp on. This is the first record by a heavy metal band from right here in the states named Old Wolf, based out of Kentucky. For the most part it stays pretty traditional with an ever so slight hint of power metal here and there, but definitely stays in the lines the majority of the time. What made it tough to get behind? It’s great music with some glaring flaws. It took about three spins to come to this conclusion, because I thought maybe it was something that you could easily adjust to, but sadly I was wrong. Clocking in at about forty minutes, it’s a worthwhile listen depending on how you like it sliced.
Looking at the music itself, the guitar work is actually outstanding. This is easily the strongest feature off of Faustian Mass and definitely keeps it from sinking down. “Executioners Hymn” has some of the niftiest playing style ever. The fret-tap progression is smothered on so smoothly that it comes off in a very welcoming manner, and bares little threat. No crazy shredding or messy rings are present, and the clean production definitely glazes this with a lighter tone. All of this came as a surprise, seeing how the artwork suggested other ideas, but I guess that’s how they reel you in. On the other hand, songs like the title track slow down the tempo and focus more on a steady rhythm to lay the verses onto, rather than taking the forefront. Of course, most of the solos that are present have that power metal-esque majestic chime to them, which is hit or miss, but at least it helps it stand out.
As talented as their guitarist may be, the issues lie pretty much everywhere else. One of the hardest things to get behind is the vocals. They were constructed for a very specific ear, and mine is certainly not one of them. Low falsettos litter pretty much every track, there isn’t much variation to them, and really, there’s no real punch either. Because of this, the songs get very boring long before the album is over, and I have found myself constantly wondering when it was over. It isn’t just lack of variation, but poor delivery as well. The song construction itself isn’t the best either. Other than the voice, all of the pieces to build a magnificent puzzle are there, but they aren’t really put together correctly. Transitions are somewhat poor (with a few stellar acoustic sections that do work), and the flow of the music isn’t anything special. In other words, nothing is done to help the tracks stand apart from one another. You could jump around this record and not even be sure that the song changed. Not terrible, but doesn’t do much.
To tie this up, picture some really great guitar licks and solid rhythm patterns, but poor placement of it all, as well as vocals that are very tough to get into. Some of this could possibly resolve itself with more listens, but once again, not too special. Lot’s of great ideas, few great portrayals of them.
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