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Cwn Annwn: The Alpha and the Omega

Cwn Annwn is a curiously named band that seems to be making quite an impact on the Minnesota metal scene lately. Their unique blend of influences into a one-of-a-kind heavy metal sound has gained them quite a bit of recognition in their respective scene, and The Alpha and the Omega is their second full-length album since their formation back in 1997. The mix of traditional heavy metal, thrash metal, female vocals, funky basslines, and technical instrumentation always keep things interesting, and their sound is something that should easily grab the attention of fans of eclectic heavy metal. I do have a few bones to pick with Cwn Annwn's sophomore album, but this is generally a successful effort, albeit a tad underdeveloped. This band does have a very promising future, even if their potential is only hinted at on The Alpha and the Omega.

While firmly rooted - possibly a bit too much for my taste - in conventional songwriting and catchy hooks, Cwn Annwn do often exemplify plenty of technical nuances here without ever using the music as a vehicle for extended soloing. I do hear a bit of Rush in their sound, but the primary influences I hear are Iron Maiden, Metallica, and Megadeth. Even though Cwn Annwn are fronted by a female singer who, aside from a few growls here and there, handles all of the vocals, the symphonic traits that are often found on female-fronted heavy metal albums are nowhere to be found. This is usually a plus in my mind, but the main flaw on The Alpha and the Omega is that it seems to really be lacking when it comes to memorable compositions. There are a few memorable riffs here and there, but they are too few and far between to really make this feel like an exceptional experience. Most of the album maintains an "average" compositional quality, seldom reaching above a passable level of mediocrity. The music just feels a bit dull to these ears, and that may partially be due to the very sterile and uninspired production. Although it's clear and professional, it simply lacks enough emotion to allow the music to grab my attention.

There are exceptions, though, and the instrumental "Gaea's Rebirth" is an absolutely stunning track in my mind. It's actually a bit of a shame that the rest of the album never reaches that level of excellence. Cwn Annwn have created an original and promising observation here, but I don't think it's quite good enough to gain the attention of listeners outside of the Minnesota metal scene. With an extra notch of compositional strength and professionalism, Cwn Annwn could very well create a standout album - they definitely have the chops and the promise. The Alpha and the Omega is a pretty average album, though, and I will rate it as such with 3 stars. Although far from essential, this is a fairly enjoyable listen from time to time.

Track Listing:
1. Red Sunrise
2. The Devil's Crest
3. Black Star
4. Gaea's Rebirth
5. Prognatus Iterum
6. Circles of Jericho
7. The Alpha and the Omega
8. Cloak of Shadows
9. Nova

Added: October 9th 2011
Reviewer: Jeff B
Related Link: Cwn Annwn Official Website
Hits: 1865
Language: english

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