Album of the Week 08-2014: Rise To Addiction – A New Shade Of Black For The Soul

Sometimes you stumble upon a fantastic opening act when you’ve come to see the headliner. Case in point: when I went to see Trouble with Eric Wagner singing seven years ago, Rise To Addiction was opening for them and they simply blew me away. Their heavy riffs, fantastic songwriting and Leigh Oates’ powerful, raw-edged vocals combined the best elements of contemporary Heavy Metal and nineties Rock music into an irresistible, catchy, groovy and – given the amount of melody – surprisingly heavy cocktail. It’s too bad the Brits haven’t been all that active lately, because I still listen to ‘A New Shade Of Black For The Soul’ with a great deal of delight.

Rise To Addiction was founded by guitarists Steve Wray and John Slater after they left former Iron Maiden singer Blaze Bayley’s first backing band. There’s definitely traces of the heavy modern Power Metal sound heard with Blaze in Rise To Addiction’s music, but the dark vibe and Oates’ vocals give the music a more than passing resemblance to Soundgarden and the way the songs are structured points towards Hardrock rather than Metal. The band chooses to label this Heavy Metal, but any fan of melodic, guitar-driven music with great vocals and a healthy dose of groove should be able to find something of their liking here.

Highlighting the album are generally the songs with the best choruses. ‘Falling As One’, for instance, has a passionate chorus with a brilliantly composed vocal harmony, but the way the song is built up and the melodic sensibilities heard throughout provide more than enough other reasons to love the song. ‘Everlasting Wave’ has a chorus with so many vocal layers that it’s easy to get lost among them. However, this band has made quite an effort to make it work. And it does. The songs amazing groove does the rest. ‘Low’ could have been a mid-nineties Hardrock classic and opening track ‘Cold Season’ has a couple of wicked riffs to accompany the brilliant chorus as well.

Critics could comment that the album doesn’t stray much from its chosen path style-wise, but the truth is that there’s quite a lot happening within the songs and that keeps ‘A New Shade Of Black For The Soul’ fresh throughout most of its playing time. It is remarkable however, that the band chose to close the album with the two most deviant tracks. Both ‘Fessonia’ and ‘The Hive’ are epic, somewhat progressive power ballads and the latter is vastly superior to the former, despite its interesting instrumental sections. ‘The Hive’ has a far more surprising and interesting structure. Those rhythms are amazing as well.

It’s a shame how bad luck in terms of record labels or other business decisions can keep a band from the recognition they deserve. Rise To Addiction certainly should have been much bigger than they were. This is one of those bands you can play any of your Rock and Metal minded friends. Most of them will like it. The Metalheads will go for the heavy riffing, the Rockers will probably be attracted to the songwriting and Oates’ amazing vocals. With their recent inactivity, it’s unlikely that another brilliant release will follow, but I can only urge everyone into good guitar driven music to check out ‘A New Shade Of Black For The Soul’. It’s very well worth your time.

Recommended tracks: ‘Falling As One’, ‘Cold Season’, ‘Everlasting Wave’, ‘The Hive’

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