Raise the Shield are another traditionally outfitted but forward looking metal band from the United States with a silly name that has managed to catch my oft-wandering attention. It's counterpart, Storm the Castle!, is a similar band that I had the pleasure of reviewing a few months back. RTS essentially strip the meat from the bones of early Euro hard rock and power metal, season it with some thrash attitude and serve it up with their cheeky yet energetic style. Deathwish is a song framed around Metallica styled riffs and amusing lyrical content, namely that of getting a blowjob while driving. The only other band that's ever attempted to deal with this seemingly dangerous practice is Pain of Salvation and dissapointingly didn't flesh out that idea to it's obvious conclusion. This is precisely why I tend to enjoy bands like RTS - a band that can oscillate between the serious and the stupid and still manage to have fun while doing it.
The ride continues with the Maiden-esque Pirate Song, with keen folky riffs that are driven by some overall propulsive songwriting. Unreal is a rather dissapointing ballad but tastefully executed, while Die is a tribute to Racer X of sorts. A jackhammer-like double kick ignites an explosion of blazing fret runs, using just the right amount of pomp and flair. The solos manage to capture the essence overblown excess of the 80s without trapping themselves in obvious self-indulgence. Shocked Awake is abundant with some great ideas that other bands tend to shy from, such as sharp 80s style lead breaks that cut through some chugging rhythms. There's a lingering aftermath with this song, as a deceptively catchy vocal melody is inexplicably riveted into the middle of your brain. The production on this demo is nothing to write home about, but the talent and potential of the band is obvious. A great little taste of a band that would have some great stage presence and an ear for great rhythms and melodies. Good stuff!
Standout Tracks: All except Unreal
Rating: Not Rated (Demo)
10/21/2006 Eyeless Sentry
H R H - R E V I E W S
Raise the Shield
Shocked Awake Independent
by Derric Miller
Comments: For every horribly inept, non-guitar soloing screamo band trying to do everything in their power to ruin the music industry, real metalheads, who were raised on bands like Megadeth and Testament, are carrying the torch and trying to resuscitate the genre of metal. One such band is basically Dave Cardwell and his band Raise the Shield. After the recording of their EP, Shocked Awake, the other band members ditched to start their own band, so Dave is left holding his EP in his hand and looking for new band members. That being said, the guys who recorded with him were talented, and it's unfortunate to see them go based on what they did as a team.
The Shocked Awake EP begins with a guitar-driven song called "Deathwish." The production on the EP, just to get out of the way, is muddy. But it's an independent release, and it is what it is. While Raise the Shield says they are influenced by the aforementioned Bay Area thrash icons, Cardwell's vocals are more aligned with someone like Billy Milano. Bay Area thrash was guitar focused music, though, and "Deathwish" is all about the guitar. If you want to know what kind of deathwish this song is about, try on these lyrics: "8-ball and 9-ball, cues and sticks. Whiskey and coke will do the trick." While Cardwell is a commendable guitarist and bass player, his vocal range is somewhat limited.
Up next is the more Iron Maiden sounding track, "Pirate Song." Cardwell does the same sort of shouting vocals, but the drums, especially during the beginning of the verses, are expert. The drum blasts throughout the song are just pummeling. The brief guitar solos are just as fierce, along with the chugging riffs. Cardwell obviously honed his guitar skills while listening to thrash bands, and he rages through a killer solo here.
"Unreal" is a much different track, sounding more updated. Cardwell softens his vocal delivery, and sounds much more musical singing this way, at least in the beginning of the verses. They also site bands like Nevermore as an influence, and you can definitely hear that in "Unreal."
If you talk Bay Area thrash, you sort of have to admit Metallica influenced you. The beginning of "Die" sounds like really old Metallica, back when they were musicians. The chorus can't be Cardwell singing, but if it is, he's a chameleon at vocals. Gone are the throaty, guttural yells and in place is a higher pitched, modern sounding piece. Cardwell's solo rips again, showing these guys have something to build on.
The last track is "Shocked Awake," a brief, droning song. They seem to excel when they put the word "die" in their titles, like with "Die" and "Deathwish," but this one isn't bad. Why they chose to name this EP after this song is confusing, since it's the weakest one on the whole EP.
All in all, the EP gives you a hint of what they can do if given the chance. It's balls-out metal, heavy and full of wicked solos, but Cardwell might want to look into a adding a full-time singer so he can focus on the songwriting and guitar playing. The vocals by no means get in the way, but the band could excel even more as a unit if stronger vocals are in place. Of course, it's just Cardwell right now, so one thing at a time …
2. Pirate Song
5. Shocked Awake
HRH Rating: NA