Album review: Poseidon’s Anger, “Tales From Near and Far”

Poseidon’s Anger

“Tales From Near and Far”

Rating: 80%

Studio projects are often a mixed bag in terms of quality and consistency, though sometimes they offer creative opportunities not often available to conventional bands. While a traditional artist has to at least consider the possibility of performing the material live and maintaining a stable lineup, these constraints do not apply to studio bands and projects with their vast stables of contributors and use of arrangements or instruments that would be difficult to faithfully replicate in concert. Therefore, a band conceptualized in this manner has to thread the fine line between making the best use of myriad talents involved in the creative process, and keeping to an artistic vision that is internally consistent, cohesive, and overall greater than the sum of its parts.

As a studio-only creation, Poseidon’s Anger is surprisingly consistent in style and approach, and managed to create a very solid sophomore release with “Tales From Near and Far” despite few hiccups. The band has achieved this end through staying true to a singular core style of American power/heavy metal popularized by the likes of recent Iced Earth output or a heavier version of classic Manilla Road, with the variety provided through the use of multiple vocalists on various tracks. Occasionally, the band employs keyboards and exotic instrumental and vocal melodies, however, these are not overused, and rarely take center stage, which helps to keep them as welcome additions instead of an overpowering presence.

Most of the songs stay in the mid-paced territory, though there are both faster and slower sections throughout the record to create a sense of dynamics. Those looking for all-out speed metal should probably look elsewhere, but the majority of the material on “Tales” is well-crafted, and has an epic feel suitable to the history-themed lyrical content.

Each of the album’s nine tracks (plus a short keyboard-and-spoken-word intro) employs a different vocalist to give the songs a distinct feel. For the most part, it works very well, though there are few mismatches between the prevalent vocal style and the songs (most notably on “Son of the Dragon”, which could have benefitted from a more aggressive vocal approach, and on “Vercingetorix”, where the vocal acrobatics are sometimes overpowering the rest of the song). The use of both male and female vocalists with diverse styles was a welcome addition to the album, and while all singers are clearly coming from a power/heavy end of the metal spectrum, they are individually distinct, and add unique flavor to the songs. In particular, both “Deborah” and “Sinhagad” benefit from unusual vocal phrasings, while “Goliad”, “Dragon of the Morn”, and “The Last Cavalier” are elevated by strong performances that stay within genre confines but showcase the talent and the professionalism of the singers.

The songs are typically built around several riffs, which range from raise-your-fist classic metal of “The Last Cavalier” to more aggressive modern metal rhythms of “Sinhagad” and Iced Earth-ish tempo changes of “Vercingetorix”. The use of electronic drums (albeit with a live drummer) occasionally creates an interesting effect of giving a slight mechanical edge to certain hi-hat sounds, though it is not a distraction, and the smart use of double-kick segments on faster tracks tends to give the songs a good sense of dynamics. The guitar work, particularly the leads, is melodic and varied without being overly flashy, technical when it needs to be yet subdued when the vocals take center stage.

All in all, “Tales” sounds like a record made by a cohesive band, with a singular concept, and a tight sound. While there are areas for Poseidon’s Anger to grow on future releases (more variation in song tempos and exploring fits between vocalists and songs on certain songs being chief amongst them), the band delivers a strong and consistent album that is both entertaining in its present shape, and bodes well for its future development. Good stuff.

Get the digital release of the album at:

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