By Allan Grusie
Never Be Tamed is the debut full length from Canadian band Conflicted. With two highly regarded EP’s and extensive live performing, they have generated a large amount of positive buzz. To find them now connected with respected prog/power metal label Nightmare Records makes total sense.
From start to finish the album is a progressive metal masterpiece. The band is led by the amazing vocals of Jason Orton, who has a four octave range. Comparing his style to Rob Halford or Tim “Ripper” Owens fits, with his delivery ranging from over the top to down and dirty. Some of the multi-tracked vocals display his ability to bridge octaves with amazing ease. By the way, no trickery here, live he is every bit as effective!
The guitar work of Mark Owen is based in a neo-classical foundation. Some have compared his style to Yngwie Malmsteen, although based on the way his playing complements the songs I’d put his delivery closer to Michael Romeo of Symphony X. Ron De Coste trades off solos and provides a perfect example of competent metal keyboard playing. Not too showy but you know he’s there.
Best track on the album, “The Hand Of God” is heavy, aggressive and showcases the talent of all involved. It is straightforward old school metal track that would not sound out of place in any of the past four decades! The track “Victor(ia)” is a well written with some cheeky subject matter. The riff on “I Wish” is a dead ringer for Symphony X song “Serpent’s Kiss”, but hey, there are only so many notes out there, and beside this song is a progressive metal masterpiece. The closing track “Release” is as close to a ballad as you’re going to get, starting off with a slower tempo than anything else on the disc, emotionally driven vocals, then building to a crescendo that will have you pushing the ‘repeat all tracks’ button.
If you like your power metal on the heavier side (Symphony X, Kamelot) this one is recommended. Never Be Tamed is a varied debut that should be on every progressive/power metal fans’ want list in 2011!