Distant Sun are a three piece from Moscow, Russia. Playing a brand of metal which could best be described as one part power metal to one part speed metal and one part thrash, the band has a heavier take on the “Euro” metal sound. Using the power metal side with the melodies, phrasings and chugging feel, they combine it quite well with the aggression, pace and technicality of the speed and thrash side to give rise to their debut offering “Dark Matter”.
From the off, the album is interesting. “Prophet of the Mean” opens with a Middle-Eastern feel sound before it kicks up several gears to full on speed metal with that power metal edge. Snarled vocals in the verses give way to cleaner sang ones in the choruses and the chugging of the guitars and tight rhythm works well. From there, “Kill the Freemen” goes full on speed/thrash. Fast paced riffing and little lead solo’s and fills litter the track and you get the feel that this could easily sound like something out of Motörhead’s back catalogue. It just has that heaviness and rawness to it which works well.
Title track “Dark Matter” takes things in a different direction. With a melancholic slow paced clean intro with a slow paced solo which flows into the verse, it sets the scene for the track. The vocals are clean and the clean guitars eventually get replaced with distorted ones playing the same riffs. The chorus has that impact you need from it – simple chugging and big singing. This sets it up perfectly for the post chorus section when the track really comes to life. Shred like soloing, fast paced rhythm and a real big groove drives the song on and the obligatory key change for the final verse and chorus works good too. “Godsdoom” has that classic traditional power metal feel to it with the slight galloping chug like rhythm. There is a slightly folk metal sounding lead melody and this gives the song a happier feel which works well with the odd vocal styling. The solo is alright with its simple section and the more complicated one but the rhythm section underneath steals the show completely.
“Matrix Hacked” brings back the angry speed metal feel. Fantastic drumming, fast riffs and a real powerful groove form the spine of this track and both guitar solos work fantastic with the first one adopting a very Helloween styled sound whilst the second is more melodic and fits better with the feel of the song near the end. “Shattered Empire” is where things start to slip a little in my opinion. A narrative section opens the track which then leads to the actual song which begins with a fast groove feel and some powerful rhythm section work but the vocals seem weaker on this track. The pre-chorus has a great build to it and the chorus has some good sounding harmonics and the track feels like it has a Manowar-lite sound to it, but the solo lets it down. Almost as if they have taken a page from the Dragonforce playbook, the solo is just a fast paced barrage of notes with some quirky moments and it really hurts the track overall.
“Gifts of Journey” is a folk-like acoustic track which is a huge direction change in terms of the album sound and this track doesn’t quite seem to fit. The guitar work is fantastic, simple rhythm, carefully composed and well arranged lead melodies work well and the odd vocal stylings really suit this approach. It’s a fun sounding track and it kind of feels like ‘The Bard’s Song’ by Blind Guardian at times, but it just doesn’t seem to fit into the album at all which is a shame. “Apocalypto” brings the album back on track with a dramatic heavy intro which tears into a speed metal and groove laden track. Musically it works, but again, the vocals are really hit or miss on this one. They work well in the verses but they really let the chorus down and solo wise, it’s alright, some good harmonies but the rhythm section steals the show once again.
“Healer of Souls” is another strange track which doesn’t quite fit the album but to me it’s the best track on the album. It has that real 80’s heavy metal feel to it, think ‘Shot in the Dark’ by Ozzy. The clean intro and steady drums gives way to a distorted driving groove like feel which has a memorable hook to it. The vocals are quite good on this one, really hitting the mark in the verse and not doing too badly in the chorus sections but the only thing which holds this track back is the lead section. It’s melodic and it works well, but it doesn’t really stand out in the way some of the other solos do. Closing the album is “Zero to Hero” which once again pulls the album back on track to the powerful speed metal approach. Fast riffs with plenty of chugging and groove behind them give the track a real heavy sound in the verses and the drumming is fantastic in the chorus. Much like the other solo’s on the album on the faster tracks, this one is another complicated, fast paced flair filled one with impressive sweeping lines and fast licks which reflects the whole theme of the track and makes for a good album closer.
Overall, “Dark Matter” is an album of two halves. It starts off well but weakens a little towards the end. Musically it works aside from one track which really doesn’t seem to fit in but vocally it is very hit and miss. Solid rhythm work, good riffs, great groove and diversity of sounds make up for the short falls, but in all, it’s not standout, it’s just typical Euro Metal.