The Three Tremors - The Three Tremors - (7/10)
Published on March 5, 2019
The metal world has never been one to shun a novel idea, given that the once exclusively guitar, bass and drums arranged genre has since birthed subsets that incorporate everything from the occasional accordion or violin, to a group of a capella singers replacing every traditional instrument, save the drums. As such, the notion of heavy metal offering up its own answer to The Three Tenors seems a fitting venture given the style’s often vocal-oriented proclivities, and was at one time floated during Iron Maiden’s Brave New World tour in 2000 as a collaborative project between Bruce Dickinson, along with Geoff Tate and Rob Halford who’s bands were part of the same tour, though it never came to fruition. The old adage of better late than never would seem to apply given that a whole 19 years later Cage front man Sean Peck decided to resurrect the idea with two other masters of the Halford-mode of glass shattering in Harry Conklin and Tim “Ripper” Owens, dubbing themselves The Three Tremors and offering up a visual of them taking on the demonic hordes during the height of Armageddon for added affect. The eponymous debut that has been subsequently released definitely seeks to register on the Richter Scale, but also presents even the most die-hard fans of heavy metal excess with a question, namely is there such a thing as too much?
Taken from a wholly musical perspective (i.e. putting aside the vocal gymnastics extravaganza), this album comes off as yet another in a continuing succession of Painkiller-inspired Judas Priest mayhem that Sean Peck’s band Cage regularly engages in, which makes sense given that members of said band were brought in as charter members to fill out the instrumental arrangement. The riff work is pretty firmly rooted in 80s metal traditionalism, yet with more of an exaggerated, thrashing demeanor that could probably pass for recent Primal Fear and even Jag Panzer on a good moment, whereas occasionally things get a bit mixed up and veer into choppy territory best exemplified in Crimson Glory’s half-hearted millennial return to the studio Astronomica. Standout offerings of overt speed riffing aggression such as the gun-happy “Bullets For The Damned”, the cruising mayhem of “The Cause” and the thrashing bruiser “The Pit Shows No Mercy” have everything that a growing pit fiend needs in the auditory violence department, including some fairly fancy lead shredding. Likewise, the creeping doom-like character of the intro and outro of “When The Last Scream Fades”, as well as the more mid-paced old school metal goodness of “Sonic Suicide” hit all the obligatory notes while maybe being a tad minimalist compared to the faster and impact-based fair that dominates the fold.
Yet for all of the relatively strong elements that go into the foundation of this album’s sound, the primary focal point of things is where this album tends to suffer. Between the relatively similar character and range of the vocalists involved, to speak nothing for the often jumbled and disorganized manner in which they trade lyrics and light up the stratosphere with their screams, a lot of the actual song that should be keeping the fancy detailing centered becomes a bit obscured. Sometimes it’s just a matter of excessive use of stacked harmonies or too frequent switches from one vocalist to the next, but there are a few songs such as opener “Invaders From The Sky”, as well as gallop-happy thrashers like “King Of The Monsters” and WWII-inspired speeder “Fly Or Die” where things become almost anti-melodic. That being said, there are a few points where the cacophony of shrieking voices manage to yield something catchy such as the infectious chorus of the Jack The Ripper-inspired anthem “Lust Of The Blade”; maybe a tad hard to sing-along with if one lacks a powerful head voice, but definitely a solid hook that’ll stick in the long-term memory banks of any self-respecting metal head. On the other hand, things get so over-the-top vocally on the closing number and title song “The Three Tremors” that it often degenerates into an outright mess, which is quite an accomplishment considering the music behind the wails is on the more restrained and straightforward side.
If nothing else, this is best summed up as a missed opportunity, largely due to a lack of care being taken to let the songs develop a bit before launching into the fancy vocal ornamentation. There is something to be said for the uniqueness of a voice being given time to establish itself before introducing others into the equation, and The Three Tremors seem more keen to wow the listener with a complex array of vocalizations rather than putting together a song that sticks with the listener past the initial impact. It wouldn’t be surprising to see an album like this lap up a healthy supply of fans given the names attached to it and the potential for an extravagant live show with an array of cover songs to complement this collection of original works. It is by no means a terrible album, and most of its flaws lay in a habitual loss of footing when Peck, Conklin and Owens decide to trade blows in rabid succession, which tends to be recovered when things calm down a bit and one vocalist is given some time to allow his distinctiveness enter the equation. All the same, it could be so much better if all three vocalists pulled away from overuse of their upper register and if one vocalist was featured for more than a few seconds before the other two chime-in with layered screams like a choir of suffering specters. Most fans of the likes of Judas Priest and Iced Earth will want to hear this at least once, though less of them will be inclined to immediately give it a second spin.