When metal is big, bold and grand as hell, it makes me smile larger than when I am offered free beer and loaded extra-large pizza, with no limit on my gluttony to come. Always has done it and always will. When I got the album release of a UK based twosome on my desk, I was hopeful that something like that would be in store for me once again.
James Ashbey started his one-man metal machine Lethean in 2012, released first a single then one EP which was greeted with great interest in the metal community but he wanted more, and to reach more of the metal masses. He soon added the vocal prowess of songstress Thumri Paavana, and it was a match in heaven. Combining epic heavy metal with traditional, doom and handpicked elements of power metal equally – they upped the ante and released a six-song album of sheer genius.
Kicking it all off was a seven and a half minute song 'Idylls of the King' – a sweeping epic wall of melodic riffs and pounding drums with addition of wonderfully powerful voice of Ms. Paavana to sweep in and to complete the package of the lyrical tale, that Ashbey had laid out. After that each song seemed to grow and pulse with every minute that passed and there is only one track shorter than six minutes long. The crowning glory was a ten minute and twenty-one second epic that was never once felt drawn out or over laboured called 'Devouring Fire'.
There were a few places where the soaring vocals got lost at times, where the separation between instruments and voice blurred to the point of near illegible. Thankfully the bulk of the album was very stellar and the writing was great. I enjoyed the album, and know that it will be in my playlist for quite some time, and the rating will express how good this duo really is.
Rating: 8.1 out of 10
MetalBite Review by Alex on 11/28/2018 7:06:55 PM
As if what 2018 has given us isn’t awesome enough, yet we get another album by an band that is very passionate about making metal music. Lethean is the name of the group hailing from the United Kingdom, and their quest entails mounting horses to travel and conquer.
“Idylls of the King” sets foot on the battlefield and strikes with both might and decorum; Thumri’s voice covers the fallen soldiers, guitars and drums plays an honorary requiem for the unfortunate that dare to stand in their way and such the cycle continues song after song, body after body, blow after blow. This music is a bubble of orgasms, preserved and given comprehensive oversight and direction. Whom is to be credited for this decree of diligence? all members, but most notably Thumri Paavana; her voice is beautiful, an absolutely mesmerizing display of vocal capabilities. Her voice is like a combination of Annick Giroux of Cauchemar (Canada) and Candia McKormack of Britain’s Gothic/pagan rock band Inkubus Sukkubus. I swear I almost mistook Thumri for Candia, the resemblance is very strong in her vocal performance. Give Inkubus Sukkubus’ music a listen and make the comparison yourself. She steals the spotlight on every song, it’s almost unfair to the rest of the music that summons unshakable instrumentation throughout the run-time of The Waters of Death.
Next you get a song like "Seafarer" that sums up the wielding power of Lethean, this is where muscles of the instrumentation clashes with the beauty of the vocals like a storm at sea on a sunny day. The contrasting factors of the music is just too much to go unnoticed, vocal highs, mid ranged toned guitars, battle-esque priming that can be heard on “Devouring Fire”, guitar solos that are both long and short, slow and mid paced and doom metal drumming that pairs off with traditional heavy metal hammering, there’s so much to discover and keep your ears glued to the speakers. The Waters of Death has a courageous sound that convincingly conveys a commanding crusade. Thanks to a disciplined vocalist that has very good control over her pitch/range; “In Darkness Veiled” brings to note just how well the band can transition from verse to chorus instrumentation whilst flaring the music by adding layers to Thumri’s vocals for emphasis. I just wish the song was a bit longer on this outing, I feel a bit robbed of that beautiful voice on this particular instance. That vocal multi-layering technique could have been used a bit more on the record; deter not, The Waters of Death is still a fantastic record.
Like other good albums I’ve heard, the stronger segment of the record is on the A side. The B side of The Waters of Death are not bad at all, they could not outwit nor challenge what was offered early on. Though I would say, "Time and the Gods" was a good attempt to recapture some of the catchier parts on the first 3 songs. With its tonal variation and constant mid-range guitar leads its not the most memorable of the tracks but arguably the most experimental on the record hence the many nods to early doom metal. The production helped to shape the success of The Waters of Death by keeping a fairly smooth tempo mixed with a slightly crunchy sound of the guitars. A few more guitar solos would have helped the music apart from Thumri’s awesome vocal display, but as stated earlier her voice tramples through the record diminishing other worthy performances. The Waters of Death is a tidy album, for its 43 minutes of play time it never sounds like a drag; with such well arranged compositions and competent instrumentation one could do little wrong.