1. Scream Machine 2. And...You Will Die 3. Save Me 4. The Human Race 5. Coming At You 6. Dreams Come True 7. Telling Lies 8. I Don't Need This 9. Words Of Wisdom 10. My Last Words 11. Your Time Has Come
Let me first say that I am a huge Tim Owens fan, tracing him all the way back to his work on the Massacre Records version of Winter's Bane's "Heart Of A Killer". His voice is the perfect metal tone, bringing in melody with powerful aggression, caught somewhere circa Judas Priest's "Painkiller" album. For some fans his voice is a bit generic, and I can't honestly or accurately debate that. However, his voice is so strong, so clear, and so powerful that you can't help but marvel at his ability and talent. In an age where so many singers are just barking out orders over machine gun double bass, here stands a man that has the ability to belt out high powered numbers with the cleanest of vocal range. Let's call a spade a spade. Have one of those schoolboys from Every Time I Die or As I Lay Dying attempt something like this and watch the circus leave town quicker than a twinkie in the hands of Sally Struthers.
After his dismissal from Judas Priest, Owens hooked up with Jon Schaffer and Iced Earth for the "Glorious Burden" album. Just like his participation with Priest, Owens was left with very little songwriting avenues. The end result...surprisingly he is still a member of Schaffer's army, but has found a creative path through his own solo venture entitled Beyond Fear. This Ohio act brings to life the ballistic and rather volatile US power metal entity, really going back in time to capture the heaviness of Overkill and the soaring vocal attack of a Neil Turbin or Dan Beehler. Aligning himself with other mid-west musicians, Owens and Beyond Fear are ready to bring back a more entertaining metal approach, one that is more about metal 'thrashin mad than orchestrated aggression or complicated arrangements. This is fun, this is entertaining, this is heavy metal.
For the most part fans of the German power metal movement will find plenty to like about this American vehicle. Cuts like "Scream Machine" and "Your Time Has Come" is more comparable to bands like Primal Fear and Brainstorm than Owens' work with Priest. Those types of songs move really fast, incorporating lots of fast, groove oriented riffs carefully built around high vocals that reach falsetto heights. It is interesting to see that Owens doesn't use much of his lower range, rougher voice, a characteristic of his "Jugulator" performance. Here he stays pretty consistent, using his high voice for the faster songs and reserving a mid-range bellow for the mid-paced songs. The modern Overkill vibe hits me on songs like "Save Me" and "Coming At You", with that particular style a more groove based arrangement that has the perfect sing along chorus parts. At times the "unity" vibe is brought in with group chants. I think my favorite parts of the record are the hard rock styles, evident on "Words Of Wisdom" and the furious fist-in-the-air selection, "The Faith". The songwriting is geared more towards rebellion of society and tackling more social issues. Obviously a song like "Scream Machine" is a revival for metal spirit and honor, but cuts like "Telling Lies" and "The Human Race" sinks deep into politics, with most of the messages touching on the war in the middle east and President Bush's current presidential disasters.
Another thing that I find interesting here is that Owens never forgot where he came from. Through the big tours with Priest and Anthrax he kept an eye out for mid-west act Iced Earth, suggesting to Priest back then that they should take "indy" band Iced Earth out on tour. Back in the late '90s he stepped up and produced Ohio band Spawn, who used his services to record their earth shattering second album, "Round Two". For his Beyond Fear venture he has picked up John Comprix, the original guitar player from Spawn. On bass the band has Dennis Hayes, the original bassist for Winter's Bane. After all of this Owens isn't afraid to go back to the underground, really relishing the fact that he is on his own and not a part of any corporate machine or commercial vehicle. I believe Beyond Fear can do the things musically and lyrically that Judas Priest AND Iced Earth simply can't. This is wise move for Tim Owens and one that should give him plenty of creative outlets in the coming years.
Note - Those of you looking for more of this type of US mid-west metal should look for Johnny Lokke, Winterkill, Catch 22, Syris, and the new Winter's Bane.
About this Writer: Eric Compton // Eric Compton lives in the most haunted city in the world, St. Augustine, Florida with his family and two yorkies. He has contributed to MaximumMetal.com since it's conception in 2003. His reviews, interviews and social commentary has been featured on websites like Brave Words, Blabbermouth, Metal Temple, Metal Rules, Ultimate Metal, Metal Maniacs and Wikipedia. You can also find him on his paperbackwarrior.com blog discussing all things action and adventure.
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