Kaine – A Crisis Of Faith
I fell in love with Kaine on the back of last album “The Waystone”, it harked back to my youth, my teenage years when I lived through NWOBHM.I wanted to grab onto that feeling like a junkie with their last bag of smack. Maiden were(and still are) the band that tore me away from punk and threw me into a world of metal that I am still totally immersed in.
I found the album late, I bought it on the back of one track and it impressed me so much I wrote a review which is unheard of that length of time after release but I had to I was so impressed. This made for a very difficult task to beat. The wait has been agonising for “ A Crisis of Faith” and at times I wondered if it would ever actually materialise. If you follow the band on social media you know the stories and I will delve into that a bit later but for now lets just say I had massive hopes for this album.
In my own head I had built this album up so much it really was going to be hard to reach my expectations but even I was not prepared for how easily it cast aside the previous album and blew away every expectation I had. This album is NWOBHM genius.
As first track “Heaven’s Abandonment” starts with its beautifully slow guitar the first thing hit me, the sound is perfect. This was my only issue with “The Waystone” but there is no problem here. The instruments are crystal clear throughout and on this intro sublime. As much as I go on about NWOBHM this band has reinvented it. It is more modern, more here and now. I can easily pick out Chris Mackinnon’s every stroke on those skins. When the song kicks in like a whirlwind I cant wipe the smile of my youth off my face. This instantly became my favourite Kaine song (but that would change a few times on this album). The guitar work is a piece of beauty all on its own.
After I had gathered my breath from the frenzy of the closing of the opener “Fall Of Jericho” aims to burst my eardrums as Stephen Ellis’s bass playing tries to batter me into submission(a little wrestling joke there…subtle I know). As much as I loved the last album it was not until I caught these boys live that I realised what incredible musicians they are. With this album and this song you cannot ignore the quality, from the Bass pounding at the start, the drums taking on their own life and the Guitars in the Egyptian staccato.
It is only two songs in but I am in awe and thank the lord the band gave me a small break with the intro to “A Night Meets Death”.Ok, the break did not last long as it is full force again quickly and this song gave me a feel of the Blaze Bayley Maiden years. I am shaking my head in disbelief at what I am hearing as this is another beauty.
With title track “Crisis of Faith” we have all the negativities, all the bands problems rolled into one. You can hear singer Rage’s frustration and anger none moreso as he screams”where did I go wrong”. The band have definitely been through the ringer, a host of lost venues, lost residencies, no festival interested in them except for the amazing Brian Mear of Mearfest fame. A man who saw the talent and supported it with the passion that the band put in. add to that the main man Rage losing his job, no money and having to scale back on rehearsals. This pisses me off no end. A band this good struggling, self financing everything they do. When I look back at the original era and all the crap bands that got signed just because of how they looked or sounded. They got support tours for major bands and tours and were abysmal. I know those times are never coming back but there needs to be some sort of karma in this. All this pain and torment is wrung out in this song and you can tell just how personal it is.
“Afterlife” is a different kettle if fish. A stunning guitar intro, leading into an almost ballad feel and then…that screaming guitar, like an opera singer on speed it pierces your soul and then the band burst into the fastest and most brutal I have heard them, this is thrash plain and simple until we break to the chorus and it could be a dwarfen battle cry. A total change and equally brilliant.
Next up is “Frailty of the Blade(Stephen’s Song)” and you can tell the different input. It is like a Murray composition in Maiden. They are few and far between but when you saw his name on the credits you knew you were in for a belter, just like this track. As you can imagine the bass is very prominent and man is he on fire.
You know that a song titled “Voice in Hell” is going to be a scorcher and as it slowly builds I cannot help think of the Twisted Sister track “Burn In Hell” and I am wanting to sing “Welcome to the abandoned land” before the vocals kick in. Since we are talking voices let us focus on Rage’s vocals as this is without a doubt his best work to date. He has grown since The Waystone, his vocals are stronger, more varied and you know he put in every ounce of his being into this.
“Behind The Preacher’s Eyes” has that Judas Priest double axe attack from the off. The vocals reflect Halford in the spat out harmony. No frills, no falsetto just pure metal. As with almost every kaine track the break downs are immense and this one twangs of Queensryche in the middle but for me it is heaven. I often wonder what it is like for a musician to listen to masters of their own instruments. I have been at many gigs in Glasgow where I watch local bands listening to their heroes in rapture. I would love to give this album to every band member I know and watch them as they listen to it. I want to see their face as the frets are ripped up, as the bass line melts your face and as those drums try to break through your chest.
“The Mind is Willing” lets go of everything NWOBHM and jumps to the end of the decade, to that latter 80s that I also loved. Classic Queensryche again with the guitar but what a track….and mmmm, who is that singing? And doing a damned fine job. This song goes almost prog in the middle but hey, Maiden managed to hide that fact for a long time. This is probably the bands most mainstream song and hey, if the shit is that good keep it coming.
We finish off with another delve into Rage’s seemingly unlimited depths of pain. Alone( in my forgotten Rage)” gets out the ivories and I can imagine it in a scene from Lord of the rings but like the story it portrays it takes you from nice fluffy kittens to finding yourself face down in a gutter that is overflowing with excrement…yes, we are talking love here ha ha. And with Rage screaming over and over again “I was never enough” I am wondering if there was a little self doubt. Now I am going to be totally selfish here and say good, harsh you say well if it brings out songs like this I am willing to trade(well, its not my pain and to be fair the man has found a beautiful woman now). The song comes in at over eight minutes and I was on the edge of my seat for every second. The bass/drum break outs are awesome, the anger in the vocals is powerful and the make up of the song is entwined with love, hate, pain and sorrow and it drips of brilliance.
Can you tell I enjoyed this? It is probably the best NWOBHM album I have heard since about 1984. Take any one of the big hitters from that era, still playing or not and they would have had wet dreams over an album this good. In fact if an alien landed and asked for the best NWOBHM album I could not go back to my scratchy, old vinyls. I would have to chose this one and for me that is no easy statement to make.
I know this genre is not trendy, I know it is not popular but if every single person who has listened to NWOBHM got to hear this album they would buy it and this band would be known the world over. They deserve that, this album deserves that and by God I will be making sure everyone I know listens to this. My neighbors may hate it due to the loudness it is being played at but they will be the only ones.
Review Ritchie Birnie
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