ONE MAN ARMY AND THE UNDEAD QUARTET is one of those acts whose output is far better than their popularity shows. Of course, they do experiment with their sound often enough to sway some of the lesser fans, but the general consistency of their Death/Thrash sound is solid. This is what makes their fourth album, "The Dark Epic" such an intriguing listen. It's perhaps their most contained album since their conception, yet it's one of their least memorable…at least on the first handful of listens.
"The Dark Epic" is quite...epic. ONE MAN ARMY cracks their knuckles and lets it rip through most of this album. Tearing through Thashy riffs like on the opener "Stitch" and its chant along chorus and diving through Death inspired drum fits enough to make most die hard genre fans turn their head. The occasional use of melodic splashes garners most of the memorablility for the album like the large scale and oddly progressive title track. This partnered with the roaring vocals of legend Johan Lindstrand make for a record that all ONE MANY ARMY fans can be proud of.
Yet, despite another solid run of Thrashy Death deliciousness, "The Dark Epic" runs oddly without a lot of hooky material. ONE MANY ARMY has always had a sort of Modern swagger to their style (that came to the surface on "Error In Evolution") and this led to lots of catchy vocal lines, riffs, and melodic touches. These are mostly missing here. The closer "How I Love to Kill You" has a lot of swing to it and "Inside the Head of God" has a killer chorus, but overall this is a record that lacks a bit of ear popping elements.
As a fan of the band, "The Dark Epic" satisfies the hunger for their sound nicely. It's a solid record (perhaps their overall most consistent release to date) and it definitely grows on the listener, even if it takes four or five spins due to its lacking catchiness. Fans of the slightly less serious Death/Thrash sound are certain to enjoy the album though.
Songs to check out: "Stitch," "Inside the Head of God," “Sandman Apocalypse."
(Online September 13, 2011)