Distant Thunder - Welcome the End (Massacre Records) 2004
1. "The Day Upon You"
Vocalist James Rivera is a heavy metal legend. I've enjoyed just about anything the man has put his voice to. Helstar, Seven Witches, Destiny's End, etc. have all been excellent, even if they aren't exactly all the same musically. Distant Thunder is no different. This is straight-forward, American heavy metal. Some may even label it power metal or speed metal. Their sound is somewhere between the classic Helstar sound and the more modern Destiny's End power metal style, falling a bit closer to the Destiny's End sound. With the band's name coming from a Helstar album, this should not be too shocking.
There are seven new songs, an instrumental, and two excellent classic metal covers. ("Run With the Pack" a Helstar cover and "Restless and Wild" an Accept cover). The songwriting offers plenty of dynamics, with plenty of distinction from song to song. The guitar work is excellent througout with plenty of cutting riffs and some frantic guitar solos. The album is very well produced by Seven Witches guitarist Jack Frost and mastered by Andy Horn (Majesty, Cage, Rob Rock). It's also worth mentioning that Mike LePond (Heathens Rage, Symphony X) is the bassist on this project.
Of course, the crowning achievement of "Welcome the End" is Rivera's soaring vocal performance. Rivera is at the top of the mix and he shifts between his regular mid-range vocals and his higher falsetto, Halford-like screams. Why Rivera isn't mentioned with guys like Halford, Dio and Dickinson is beyond me.
"Welcome the End" may not be better than the classic Helstar albums, but it is a quality heavy metal platter.