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Durbin – The Beast Awakens

James Durbin’s covers of Judas Priest on American Idol got me interested. The YouTube videos got some traction here in Australia. His debut album released in 2011, “Memories Of A Beautiful Disaster” rocked hard and I was a fan. “Celebrate” in 2014, lost me as it went way to poppy.

Then he hooked up (surprisingly) with Quiet Riot and he made me a fan again with the very underrated and forgotten “Road Rage” album released in 2018. “Space Cowboys” came out a year later but shit was going down in the Quiet Riot camp, as Durbin left the band before the album was released and drummer Frankie Banali was fighting for his life but we didn’t know it at that point in time.

And here we are with Durbin.

Joining James Durbin who does all vocals and guitars, is Mike Vanderhule on drums and Barry Sparks on bass. And from what I have read, different guitarists appear for the lead breaks.

The album came out in February, 2021 on Frontiers.

The Prince Of Metal

A perfect title to introduce his “Metal” album.

It’s like “Phantom Of The Opera” from Iron Maiden in the first few minutes and I’m all in.

James Durbin is killing it vocally and the guitar lead is also excellent. After the solo there is this slower “Heaven And Hell” groove and I’m banging my head to it.

The prophecy says / Raise Thy Horns / Bang Thy Heads / The Prince Of Metal

A QR reference. Perfect.

Kings Before You

Phil Demmel and Fozzy guest on this very Savatage sounding track, ala “Edge Of Thorns” in the verses.

I’ve always enjoyed Demmel’s playing in Machine Head and he delivers another guitar hero lead on this.

From the sky descends the wizard – As he spreads his hands apart / Manifesting right before me – Holding out the sacred heart

A Dio reference.

Into The Flames

It feels like it’s inspired by “Dance Macabre” from Ghost BC and I like it. Then again the riff is an overused riff from the 80s.

If anything the embryo of that riff can be traced back to “Don’t Fear The Reaper” from Blue Oyster Cult.

The Chorus is anthemic.

Now break the chains / Release the spell that you are under / This darkness will pass & give way to the light

The Sacred Mountain

It’s inspired by Dio and Sabbath’s “Heaven And Hell”. Durbin, Sparks and Vanderhule are firing on all cylinders here.

The vocal melody from Durbin is memorable and the guitar lead is fast and excellent.

The Beast Awakens

Great title track. More Metallica and Judas Priest like.

Killer vocals and killer leads.

Demons drawing nearer / Is your life forsaken / Time to face your fears / For The Beast Awakens

Evil Eye

Malmsteen has a song with this title.

Great riffs and the lead break is guitar hero worthy.

I’ll walk through hell alone & swear as long as I’m still breathing / I’ll live to overthrow the hellion & blind the Evil Eye

A Judas Priest and Malmsteen reference.

Necromancer

A power metal cut.

Riders On The Wind

One of my favorites, buried deep in the album.

It’s got Dio and “Heaven And Hell” influences all over it and I’m all in.

Check out the lead break as well.

Riders On The Wind / Searching for the sacred night

Calling Out For Midnight

It’s speed rock, Saxon like with a typical Durbin anthemic chorus.

Battle Cry

After the supercharged tracks, we get a slower tempo track, but don’t call it a power ballad. Because it’s not.

And the lead break is so Gilmour like with a bit of Michael Schenker added for spice.

By The Horns

It’s almost Megadeth like, a more rockier version of “Symphony Of Destruction”.

Rise To Valhalla

The closer and a cut for all those power metallers.

I’m ready to ride out and fight for Durbin.

Great lead playing and harmonies.

Also the bass playing from Barry Sparks is excellent on this song and throughout the album.

Durbin possesses a great vocal range and his prowess on the guitar is evident on this album. As a songwriter, all songs are written by Durbin.

If this is his first entry into the realms of Metal, then I will eagerly await his next.

Check it out.

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