Absolva describe themselves as “a classic metal band with twin lead guitar in the British tradition”. Based in Manchester, these guys are hoping to bring back classic metal to the masses. Let’s see if they’re anywhere close…
If there were superheroes in metal then “Flames of Justice” would be their anthem. This is the only way I can describe this song. Virtuous lyrics and a blistering guitar duel make for a strong album opener. I hear a hint of Thin Lizzy in there too.
The fist pumping stamina of the title track continues with “Hundred Years”, a song slightly confusing in subject matter to me but defiant nonetheless. “Code Red” brings the machismo with the line “follow my orders, don’t question why”. I have no idea what Code Red is, or why I should follow it but who am I to argue with such a commanding chorus?
“It Is What It Is” opens with a thundering bass line which punctuates the rest of the track, overlaid with solid cymbal work and a bit of double bass pedal action. This album has twin guitar assaults throughout and the classic duels continue with “Breathe” which makes a plea of “Just let me breathe”. Ironic for a song with no respite on the riffage.
“State of Grace” is a complete surprise track on this album. It’s an instrumental piece with an almost medieval sound and a flamenco flavour. I can’t decide if the placement of this is weird or genius because it’s completely different from anything else on the album. That being said, I don’t think you can listen to this album on shuffle and appreciate it fully as to me, it does tell a story. Granted it’s a bizarre one but all the best stories are, right? State of Grace is a nice interlude from all the monster riffs as it’s such a tender piece of music. Stunning. More of this please.
“From Beyond The Light” takes us back to the theme of the album. Lead guitars bouncing off each other, creating a solid wall of…yep, you guessed it…riff (this album should have been called “The Riff”).
“Free” is probably the “dirtiest” sounding track on the album with a really heavy slow sound, reminiscent of Metallica’s Sad But True in parts. The outro is captivating as well. “Love To Hate” continues the slight Metallica sound with a hint of Def Leppard in the chorus. It may sound odd but it does work.
“Only When It’s Over” is without a doubt my favourite track on the album. If you can imagine getting your heart ripped out, trampled on and trying to work out how the hell to put it back together then you’re somewhere close to how this song makes you feel. Or at least that’s what happens to me. This is pure emotive power balladery (no idea if that’s a word) at its best.
“Empires” closes the album with more power riffs and a defiant attitude resonating throughout the song. I’m guessing the superheroes from the beginning of the album won.
The only reason this album doesn’t get full marks from me is because, having seen these guys a few times, I think some of their raw sound was lost in production as it is very “slick” and I personally would have liked to hear them capture the grit they throw out live. But that’s just me.
All in all, Flames of Justice is a solid debut, dragging the glory days of metal back to the fore whilst paying homage to the classic NWOBHM bands of yesteryear. I can’t wait to hear more from these guys if this is what they come up with for their first outing.