When James Durbin released The Beast Awakens (2021) back in February, I thought the album was ok, so I didn’t buy a physical copy of it then. However, as time went by, I decided to give the album another chance because Durbin was kind enough to like some of my comments on his Instagram posts.
Even after I stopped listening to his music in middle school/high school, I still followed him on social media, so that I knew what he was up to. Another reason why I bought the album was because I wanted to make up for selling Durbin’s first album, Memories of a Beautiful Disaster (2011), to the Book Off. Sorry, Durbin! Anyways, I ordered The Beast Awakens from Amazon on September 5 and it arrived on September 13, 2021. With all that said, let’s get on with the music!
The first track is “The Prince of Metal” and the galloping drum intro reminds me of Iron Maiden. It’s got a mythical feel and not just because I thought Durbin looked like Thor in the music video, haha. The high notes can be a bit much (“The TWISTING of steel”), depending on your taste, but it’s a fun song. “Kings Before You” has a darker tone with pounding drums, which I really like. If I’m not mistaken, Durbin shares the lead vocals with Chris Jericho, who happens to be a famous wrestler. Phil Demmel, former lead guitarist of Machine Head, was featured on the song as well, and man, that dude can play!
“Into the Flames” has a nice transition between the verses and chorus. I love the guitar riff and I find the melody really soothing, yet it’s still heavy metal. “The Sacred Mountain,” like the previous track, has a great melody. Durbin is not just a great screamer, he’s also a great singer. I also dig the fantasy lyrics, the guitar playing is incredible, and it’s a slow headbanger.
For the title track, Durbin shows off his screams and goes full beast mode on here. I also love the bass player throwing in some flavor, if you listen closely. “Evil Eye” has a catchy chorus and I can sense a fantasy/mythical vibe on this album. “Laying waste to the un-divine / In the quest for glory & you will / Leave the rest of the world behind / There’s no other way.” “Necromancer” is chaotic and the chorus is lazy (Durbin just sings “necromancer” and moves on). The drumming is all over the place, I have no idea what the song is about, and so far, this is the first track that I don’t care for on the album.
“Riders on the Wind” is an improvement from the previous track. It gets better with every listen, I love the dark tone of it, and it has a cool guitar solo. “Calling Out for Midnight” is a fun song. It has a lighthearted feel (maybe that’s not the right description, but work with me, people) and it’s a perfect track to get you pumped up for a battle. “We gather to release ourselves & storm the gates of hell / Unleash the beast of vengeance / Writing victory in the skies.”
Ok, I like that the lyrics of “Battle Cry” tell a story, but I’m not digging the chorus. I think it slows the pace of the song and the screams are a bit much. It sounds like Durbin is whining at times, sorry. I almost gave a bad review for “By the Horns,” but the guitar solo saved it for me. The song has a good beat too, so there’s that. I think “Rise to Valhalla” was a good way to close off the album, especially with the acoustic guitar bit at the end.
I enjoyed 10 out of the 12 songs, which is about 83 percent. With that in mind, I’ll give The Beast Awakens a rating of 4.15 out of 5 stars. Though I think the first half is better than the second half, I think The Beast Awakens was a solid effort at a modern heavy metal album.
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