Monday, March 28, 2011

Conflicted - Never Be Tamed

Never Be Tamed
Nightmare Records

Over the last three years, Canadian act Conflicted have certainly earned themselves a lot of publicity within the local scene, with the band taking out the award for Best Metal Band at the 2010 Toronto Independent Music Awards, as well as scoring three prominent awards at ImageFM Radio’s 2010 Annual Independent Music Awards.
With the band’s growing presence within the scene, and the slow building acclaim for their independently released self-titled E.P. and live performances, it’s not surprising to find the band being quickly snapped up by Nightmare Records, who have the honour of releasing the band’s debut full-length effort ‘Never Be Tamed’.
After a short introductory keyboard piece (‘After Too Long’), the five piece act (Who currently comprise of vocalist Jason Orton, guitarist Mark Owen, bassist John Kolodziej, keyboardist Ron De Coste and drummer Corey Stoll) quickly launch into the album’s title track ‘Never Be Tamed’. If proof were needed as to why Conflicted have generated such a buzz within the underground scene, then ‘Never Be Tamed’ provides plenty of it. From the biting guitar riffs, the neo-classical shredding solos, the atmospheric keyboards to Orton’s impressive range on the vocals (Which brings to mind Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens), Conflicted present listeners with a huge sound and demonstrate enough flair in song writing to make the song really stand out. In short, ‘Never Be Tamed’ is a killer opener, and a credit to the band’s abilities on all fronts.
On the mid-paced follow up effort ‘Victor(ia)’ allows keyboardist De Coste and guitarist Owen to showcase their trade offs between each other, while on ‘Fallen’ (The first promotional video clip filmed for the album) and ‘I Wish. I Remember’, the band further explore the progressive rock side of their sound with Orton fully showcasing his range and De Coste taking on a lead role in helping shape the direction of the songs varied tempos and moods.
The straight forward ‘The Hand Of God’ is easily another favourite with its heavy riff structures and catchy choruses, while ‘Stay’ and ‘Heat Me Up’ are worthy follow up efforts, with Orton’s performances on the pair by far his best on the album as a whole.
Steering more towards the neo-classical/progressive power metal side of things are ‘Alive’ and ‘Torment’, while the closing effort ‘Release’ seems to sum up all the different aspects and feels that make up the Conflicted sound all within the one track.
Although some of the song writing isn’t all that amazing, and the production a little too focussed on Orton rather than the band itself, overall it’s not all that surprising to see why Conflicted have had a lot of people talking. ‘Never Be Tamed’ is an impressive debut, and will appeal to those who have always wondered what Kamelot would sound like if they were fronted by a guitar wielding Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens.

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© Justin Donnelly