Tuesday 7 April 2020

ALBUM REVIEW: Absolva, "Side By Side"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 17/04/2020
Label: Rocksector Records

“Side By Side” CD//DD track listing:

1. Advocate Your Fate
2. Burning Star
3. The Sky's Your Limit
4. Side By Side
5. Living A Lie
6. Legion
7. Eternal Soul
8. End Of Days
9. Heart Let's Go
10. From This World
11. 2 Minutes To Midnight (BONUS TRACK)
12. Heaven & Hell (BONUS TRACK)

The Review:

Absolva are a British metal band that combine a good dose of melody with the finest steel. They are a modern day heavy metal band- think Priest, Accept, Maiden, Saxon.... and then bring it up to 2020 via bands like Alter Bridge. If 2017's “Defiance” was a weighty affair, then “Side By Side” is a little slicker. Opener “Advocate Your Fate” is anthemic and driving in equal measure, “Burning Star” pulls the same trick at a faster tempo.

Similarly, the title track is a catchy melodic beast with some power to it as well. The likes of “Living a Lie” and “Legion” offer up a little more metal and a little less hard rock. The performances are excellent throughout, with Karl Schram and Martin McNee forming a lock tight rhythm section for Chris Appleton to weave some magical and soaring guitar work over, ably assisted by Iced Earth member and brother Luke Appleton.

The Maiden influence comes in strong on “Eternal Soul” with some incendiary instrumental sections. You can clearly see that Absolva wear their influences on their sleeve (after all, three of them are Blaze Bayley's backing band) but are also forging forward with a hybrid of hard rock and heavy metal. “End of Days” is a very strong and catchy track down the back stretch with a  triplet time feel making it stand out.

“Heart Lets Go” is a serviceable album track, but not up to the strength of “From This World” which closes out the album. With ethereal acoustic work and a well delivered vocal, it's a very strong way to finish the record. As a bonus, the band have also covered “Two Minutes to Midnight” and “Heaven and Hell”. It's a bold move, being as both songs are absolute classics of the genre. The Maiden cover is the pick of the two, as “Heaven and Hell” has the tempo picked up just a tad which alters the dynamic of the track a little. That said, that's two strong bonus tracks for the fans so no complaints.

Where “Side By Side” will sit in Absolva's canon, I am not yet sure. It's certainly better than “Flames of Justice” and “Never A Good Day To Die” and I think stronger- but less heavy- than “Anthems To The Dead”. It's perhaps more finely crafted than “Defiance”, but with less adrenaline fuelled material. Time will tell where it sits, but one thing's for sure this is a release of the finest quality with a bright and live sounding production being the icing on an impressive cake. It's great to hear a young British metal band that can compete with the old guard and the Americans. A strong album. 

“Side by Side” is available HERE

Band info: facebook