Quite a few bands these days are releasing 25-30 minute CD's today and calling them full length albums, so it's almost refreshing to receive a 5 song EP that pretty much equals the length of these so-called 'full length releases' and ultimately gives you more bang for your buck. Commencement comes to us from Fischel's Beast, a band that features Barry Fischel (ex-Sentinel Beast) on guitars, Eric Mauriello (Little Anthony Band) on bass, Ed Klinger (ex-Caligula) on drums, and singer Anthony Cross. Guest starring on 2 tracks is Savatage/Trans-Siberian Orchestra guitarist Chris Caffery.
The material here is comprised of songs that were originally written to be part of the second Sentinel Beast album, that ultimately never came to be, so Fischel decided to have his new band have a go at them, and metal fans are all the more lucky for it. This is very mid-80's flavored classic metal with a heavy thrash edge. Think Annihilator, early Metallica, Savatage, Iron Maiden, Riot, Omen, Overkill, well, you get the picture. Plenty of crunchy riffs and tasty harmonies abound here, and considering each song is in the 6-7 minute range, expect a healthy dollop of guitar mayhem. Fischel and Caffery trade blazing leads on the crankin' opener "Commencement/Forbidden Territories", and "The Phoenix" sees Barry laying down some scary solos and memorable harmonies, with Cross adding plenty of majesty with his soaring delivery. I'm reminded of early Fates Warning, as well as David Chastain, on the epic sounding "One Man's Cry", drummer Klinger flailing away as Fischel's torrent of riffs pile up in what is a very exciting classic metal piece. "Fate of Kings" sees the guitarist and bassist Mauriello trading some complex lines (early Iron Maiden fans will totally dig this piece), before Chris Caffery comes charging back in for a blistering run, and closer "Where Am I" is a melodic yet crunchy number packed with enough heavy riffs, tasty leads, and powerful vocals to please even the toughest metal critic.
This is some classy old school styled metal here, and it would be interesting to see what these guys could do with a bigger production budget and newer material. Apparently the band already has plenty of new songs in the works, so it's a good guess that we'll hear more from this ensemble in the very near future. Keep your eyes and ears open!
1) Commencement/Forbidden Territories
2) The Phoenix
3) One Man's Cry
4) Fate of Kings
5) Where Am I