Consisting of some seasoned musicians from Boston USA, Worshipper unleash their debut having only been formed for a year or so. And an impressive debut it is starting with it’s interesting cover art, which is very non-committal as to the form of music the band will be playing. The only thing that seems certain is that there must be lots of loud guitars and pounding rhythms. Yep, got those!
I suppose “Shadow Hymns” will get filed under a retro tag, reeking strongly of the riff-driven twin guitar fueled Hard Rock/Metal from the Seventies (early Priest, early UFO, bit of early Wishbone Ash…you get it…early!) and yet for a debut there is a real maturity to the song-writing. When you then add in the vocals there are elements of Uli Jon Roth era Scorpions and a big chunk of Canadian Metallers Sheavy (especially vocally – imagine a cross between a less nasal Klaus Meine and a less Ozzy-esque Steve Hennessey and you’re about there!). So it’s a good melting pot of influences and styles that gives Worshipper their own sound.
Delving deeper into the songs themselves it is indeed the guitars that initially capture the limelight, with strong memorable riffs in every song, with single and twin lead work of a high standard on display throughout (check out ‘Another Yesterday’ as an example, but don’t turn the track off before the fabulous twin guitar part in the last minute!!). But then you quickly realize that the tightness and power of the rhythm section is also a very integral part of the band’s sound. Often overlooked in some bands it’s the bedrock of a band like Worshipper, driving each track forward. Powerful yet precise, there’s plenty of room in a Worshipper song to be able to really pick out how well the bass and the drums are working together, or for that matter how well their songs can carry a melody or hook. The vocals suit the songs perfectly, sometimes reeling in the melodies to allow the guitars to shine, but then launching a memorable hook out of nowhere, backed up by a great chorus. Like I said, each song offers a different example and there are no weak tracks on ‘Shadow Hymns’ so need for me to single any out…like I did earlier with ‘Another Yesterday’…damn…
It’s the simple art of song-writing that was seemingly hewn in stone (or Rock) back in it’s day and being replicated and built upon in modern times by Worshipper and their ilk. It all seems so simple when you hear it done as well as Worshipper do it, but that’s the secret. It’s not easy making something sound so effortless as Worshipper do, whilst still remaining edgy and unpredictable. This is an impressive debut that sets the bar for further releases quite high indeed. It sounds greedy to still be enjoying one release whilst salivating about the thought of more to come, but that’s the mark of a quality debut isn’t it?
(8/10 Andy Barker)