|Musical Style: Melodic Power Metal||Produced By:|
|Record Label: Nightmare||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2008||Artist Website: Six Minute Century|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 90%|
|Running Time: 57:15|
Houston, Texas based Six Minute Century came together in the summer of 2004. Honing its skills by playing the local club scene (and gaining a loyal fan base in the process), the group recorded several demos prior to landing a deal with Nightmare Records and releasing its full length debut, Time Capsules, the spring of 2008.
Time Capsules presents with a melding of power metal and melodic metal with the occasional progressive overtone. While comparisons to Savatage, Dio, Fates Warning, Kamelot and TNT are warranted, I find there is a bit more than meets the eye here. And that is the heaviness of Symphony X that the band rests its sound upon but mixed with the accessibility of Magnitude 9 and Theocracy. The end result is a heavy but melodic brand of metal that brings to mind Threshold (though without the progressiveness the five piece unit from the UK brings to the table). Speaking of the progressive, you will find hints of Dream Theater throughout the project, but, again, not enough for Six Minute Century to fall under a progressive label.
The previously referenced “accessibility” can be found in the catchy hooks imbuing Time Capsules. The likes of “Under The Moonlight”, “The Perfect Picture”, “One Man’s Dream” and “April 19, 1995” put the melodic in melodic power metal in no uncertain terms while “Get Your Wings” and TNT cover “Seven Seas” reflect commercial touches of the eighties. But if you are interested in a heavier aspect to the bands sound then look no further than “Saved In Time”, “Heaven’s Gate” and Zero Hour”, crunchers reflecting that Symphony X influence in question.
The pure, soaring and high end vocal approach of Chuck Williams will delight fans of Ray Alder (Fates Warning), Midnight (Crimson Glory), Lance King (Avian) and Ski (Faith Factor). But as with the music here, there is a bit more than meets the eye. And that is the influence of Steve Perry (Journey) and Steve Walsh (Kansas) found in his delivery (in my opinion). Just check out the emotion and feeling he adds to “The Perfect Picture” and “Get Your Wings” to understand my point. It all adds up to one of the finer vocal talents to hit the melodic/power metal scene in recent years.
Guitarist Don Lafon (Krucible) proves equally able in ranking with contemporaries Michael Romero (Symphony X), Rob Johnson (Magnitude 9) and Karl Groom (Threshold). The album finds him laying down an abundance of riffs – from the melodic to the galloping to the groove flavored – while showcasing his adept soloing abilities on “Under The Moonlight”, “April 19, 1995” and “Zero Hour”. “Guitar Concierto”, a classical influenced open air guitar instrumental, is played with so much emotion it sends shivers down your spine.
Keyboards, handled by LaFon and guests Adam Rawlings and Bobby Williamson, add just the right amount of accentuating touch without coming across overdone.
Darren Davis proves a mega-tight drummer as you will find and anchors the low end with bassist John Sample.
Production values place the guitars and vocals in the forefront of the mix – where they belong – while allowing the lead guitar and bass room to breathe.
While pigeonholing Six Minute Century a Christian band would not be accurate, its lyrics – clean, positive and well thought out – are written from a Christian standpoint (lyricist Chuck Williams is one of several believing members in the group). Lyrical themes revolve around biographical sketches (“One Man’s Dream”), history (“Zero Hour” and “April 19, 1995”) and statements of faith (“Saved In Time” and “The Perfect Picture”).
“Under The Moonlight” opens to a church organ before kicking into high gear as a frontal assault of rhythm guitar takes over. The song proceeds to plow ahead to a driving riff, the tempestuous environs not letting up until a catchy chorus uplifted by vocal harmonies is achieved. The church organ returns at the start of an instrumental section carried by a blistering guitar solo.
“The Perfect Picture” presents with some interesting contrasts. The song slows to a near standstill for an ethereal tinged chorus in which the rhythm guitar hammers in and out of the mix. As “The Perfect Picture” moves on to its verses, however, the pace picks up as the rhythm guitar establishes itself fixed and firm. Another lengthy instrumental section allows LaFon to cut loose on lead guitar. What we have here is a song of faith and hope:
In my life I haven’t painted the perfect picture
Time and again I have been quite a sinner
In my time of need You were always there
And gave me the strength to carry on
Hallowed by thy name
Please forgive me for past mistakes
Those I made in vain
That causes so much pain
Narration from Martin Luther King, Jr. introduces “One Man’s Dream” as a punchy bass line reinforces the backdrop. A muscle-laden rhythm guitar soon steps forward, leading the way through the songs staunch verse portions and a flowing chorus that comes across near mesmerizing in feel. Drummer Darren Davis really anchors the backbone on this one. “One Man’s Dream” is a lyrical tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.:
One man’s vision to find a new degree of meaning
An unheard of reasoning that, we all understand
One man’s dream
To educate our youth
One man’s dream
To redefine the truth
“April 19, 1995” is the closest any of the albums material comes to falling within ballad territory (although I would hesitate to call it a power metal ballad). The song begins its first minute to a joining of acoustic guitar and bluesy lead guitar. Abruptly picking up in pace as the rhythm guitar steps forward, “April 19, 1995” marches ahead in steadfast fashion only to decelerate for a concise chorus that finds Williams exhibiting the emotional edge to his voice. Understated run of lead guitar adds to the dramatic milieu. “April 19, 1995” deals with the Oklahoma City bombing:
Your actions were deliberate
So many lives lost at your expense
Do you think about what you’ve done, and all the people that you’ve hurt
Soon justice will be served. They’ll be coming for you
And you’ll feel deaths cold grip around your soul as you enter hell
On the day of infamy, April 19, 1995, I cried myself to sleep
A hard hitting instrumental opening fortified by pounding double bass introduces “Zero Hour”. Tapering at once to a Kansas-like grand piano, the song slowly drifts through its first verse until the rhythm guitar returns as initiative recoils in full force. The resolved scene is upheld for the terse pre-chorus and driving chorus that follows. The double bass makes a cameo appearance for an instrumental section featuring a lead guitar and keyboard duel. “Zero Hour” was written from the standpoint of a soldier in Iraq:
As I fall to the sand
Bullets ricocheting all around
I’m too scared to breathe
But this won’t be my
I’ll escape this enemy
It’s my duty, it’s my fate
Let freedom ring
For those who are in need
Won’t you stand and fight with me
We are marching into war
Instrumental “Guitar Concierto” reflects a symphonic touch as LaFon exhibits his neo-classical abilities on lead guitar. Yngwie, of course, is the first thing that comes to mind but you also have to mention the flashy open air guitar pieces Rex Carroll contributed to each Whitecross album.
“Saved In Time” brings to mind Symphony X with its dark and heavy sound. This one puts forth quite the resounding feel, reflected in its swarthy mix of rhythm guitar and rumbling low end. Keyboards in the backdrop add an eerie touch. Heavy but melodic, “Saved In Time” will also grip you with its profound chorus hook- of the kind certain to remain with you for some time. A statement of faith is made on this one:
Howls and groans make you shamble and sway
Reassuring yourself that you’re imagining things
Beware of the beast
It devours those who are week
And darkness rushes in
There’ll be no return trip my friend
Soon there will be just one chance
So don’t hesitate to be saved in time
“Heaven’s Gate” maintains the guitar driven initiative. The song proves every bit as stalwart – although on the more upbeat side of things – with its muscle laden guitar sound and precision drumming. I am almost reminded of Jacobs Dream here (Theater Of War era) with its US power metal touches and high end vocal delivery of Williams. Again, like “Saved In Time” the environment is heavy but catchy, standing out with its breathtaking chorus and unmistakable riffing. As its title implies, the subject at hand is the “heaven’s gate” cult from San Diego that committed suicide:
He told them he was the heir apparent
Sent here to lead them to the promised land
Lies and deceit about how this would be their only chance
He said we’ll hitch a ride as they draw near
We’ll take flight and leave our ugly bodies here
Welcome to heaven’s gate
How do we gain entrance?
Tell me what do you think?
How do you receive admission?
Do they make exceptions?
“Get Your Wings” will also turn your head with its notable melody. Driven its distance at an upbeat tempo, the song backs a perseverant guitar riff with keyboards to create an environment that can best be described as unremitting. Impetus briefly tapers for a chorus that, for a lack of better words, is as catchy as all get out. “Get Your Wings” can best be described as a positive metal piece:
When you are in the air all you feel is pleasure
So waste no time
Cause when you’re in the air the feelings immeasurable
A new direction in your life
The freedom to roam anywhere you wish
With wings you fly into an endless abyss
Get your wings and fly…
The melodic metal masterpiece “Seven Seas” is a TNT cover (off Knights Of The New Thunder from 1984). Not quite as heavy as those preceding it, the song will still draw you in with its melodic flavorings, reflected in a commercial eighties metal feel that deserves to be heard on FM radio. Williams really sings his guts out on this one.
The best way to sum up would be to state that on Time Capsules Six Minute Century sets the standard. The group proves ingenious at writing catchy melodies while maintaining the guitar driven initiative. And every bit as important- Six Minute Century presents with no weaknesses in that vocals, lead and rhythm guitar and rhythm section are all top of the line. Throw in the positive lyrical direction and this becomes a must buy for all fans of melodic, power and progressive metal.
Track Listing: “Under The Moonlight” (7:12), “The Perfect Picture” (6:27), “One Man’s Dream” (6:22), “April 19, 1995” (7:39), “Zero Hour” (7:12), “Guitar Concierto” (3:19), “Saved In Time” (4:26), “Heaven’s Gate” (5:20), “Get Your Wings” (4:48), “Seven Seas” (4:33)
Chuck Williams – Lead Vocals
Don LaFon – Guitars, Keyboards & Sequencing
John Sample – Bass
Darren Davis – Drums
Adam Rawlings – Keyboards
Bobby Williamson - Keyboards