From the visionary minds of legendary metal vocalist Matt Barlow (Ashes of Ares, Iced Earth, Pyramaze) and composer, keyboardist and pianist Jonah Weingarten (Pyramaze, Teramaze, solo artist) comes We Are Sentinels. Combining sweeping motion picture style orchestral arrangements, modern classical piano, thunderous percussions, and the dynamic and powerful vocals of Barlow, We Are Sentinels has set out to create something truly unique and groundbreaking. With musical and thematic elements inspired by the great drama, sci-fi, and fantasy films of the last 30 years — combined with duo's obvious enthusiasm for all things heavy metal — We Are Sentinels works to embody the very essence of the word "epic." The full length debut album is mixed and mastered by Jacob Hansen (Amaranthe, Volbeat, Pyramaze).
An incredible debut effort from this two-piece cinematic metal outfit
When I first head about We Are Sentinels coming out, I was very intrigued, especially because Matt Barlow was going to be handling vocal duty. For those of you unfamiliar with Matt, he is the former vocalist of Iced Earth. He also did work with Pyramaze and Ashes of Ares. Rounding out the duo is Jonah Weingarten of Pyramaze and Structure of Inhumanity.
What these two gentlemen have created with We Are Sentinels is an album that could be utilized as a soundtrack for another LOTR movie or for a video game like Skyrim or DragonAge. Furthermore, the songs on the album have this massively epic feel to them that just pulls you in and whisks you away to a world of war, fire, beauty and everything else in between. It's almost like a musical tale that plays out with each song and you feel like a part of the story from the get go.
Tracks like "Kingdom In Winter", "Life, Death, Rebirth" and "Sirens of Odysseus" really epitomize that epic feeling, dealing with war, death and mythology respectively. The remainder of the tracks are more heartfelt and emotional. I challenge anyone to listen to "In Memoriam" and not get a little misty eyed as you listen to the lyrics. Finishing the album out is a cover of Dio's "Holy Diver" which is a nice way to finish things out and a pretty solid cover tune. Hands down, my favorite track off the album is the opener, "From My Tower". I can't really explain exactly what it is about this track that sticks with me but from the moment I heard it, it wormed its way in and has stuck as my favorite.
The one complaint I have is that the songs are mostly like ballads with moments of heaviness interspersed throughout. I would have liked to have heard more driving tracks on the album but even so, I still really enjoyed the album. Barlow's voice sounds incredible and shows that he is still capable of turning in an amazing emotional performance. This is arguably his best vocal work since departing Iced Earth. All in all, We Are Sentinels have created an album that while similar to other acts out there, really stands on its own as something unique. A heavy metal album without guitars that still manages to be heavy is impressive in and of itself. But when you factor in the songwriting, Weingarten's inspired instrumental prowess and Barlow's vocals, you can't go wrong with this one at all.
Recommended for fans of: Epica, Xanthochroid, LOTR, Skyrim