deep-sun-race-against-timeIt’s always nice to stumble across a new band, even more so when it’s a band of the quality of Deep Sun who somehow are unsigned and really do deserve a proper record deal. What we have here is high-end Symphonic Metal made all the more special for me by it’s reliance on talent and song-writing rather than wheeling in orchestras and choirs to fill in the gaps.

This is actually Deep Sun’s second offering (though the first I’ve heard…at the moment), and as well as being nicely current, also pleasantly harks back to less complicated (and expensive) times for Symphonic Metal. Back before Nightwish broke big there were bands who, using Nightwish and their ilk as an influence, relished writing great songs with varying styles of female singer, and were content to let the music, not the budget do the talking. Deep Sun remind me of the earlier albums by Visions Of Atlantis, Xandria, Amberian Dawn and yes, “Oceanborn/Wishmaster” era Nightwish.

Now I’ve a feeling there might be a few of you reading this that also have a fondness for this time in Metal history and believe me, Deep Sun have nailed it, but alongside that they haven’t missed out the last ten years or so either. There are elements of Pythia in both the songs and the vocals, which is another strength the band have, and are able to evoke so many styles of the genre seemingly at will. Just as an example, the fabulously titled “Dreaming Leprechaun” (Don’t wake him, he’s always after your Lucky Charms!!) reminds me of Dreams Of Sanity, whereas the title track combines Pythia with maybe Eyes Of Eden.

Continuing the variation, ‘Riders Of Death’ has loads of Leaves Eyes in the music and bombastic chorus, but with the addition of some excellent Kate Bush vocal-isms on the verse. This is however the first track that displays their male shouted vocal. Again, it evokes Leaves Eyes on their track ‘My Destiny’, and mostly Deep Sun get away with it on this song. They only use them particularly on two songs but when he just shouts one word at a time on ‘Deep Sun’ itself, it unfortunately makes me think a drunk bloke has got into the recording studio and is randomly shouting. I keep expecting him to go “Arrrse”, Drrrink”, “Fekk” in true Father Jack style, while Father Ted cowers in a corner…but hey, maybe that’s just me and is meant as a constructive criticism. Maybe they could get the whole band to do the shouting next time, I’m sure it’ll give it more impact.

Not bad going though if this is the only particular thing I can find to really criticize on this well-crafted and balanced album. It’s also got a good quality production and cover art! There’s plenty of dynamic heaviness throughout, with excellent rhythm and mood changes, topped perfectly with memorable choruses (“The Believer” is particularly striking) and also a ‘Sleeping Sun’ style ballad nicely slotted in the middle of the album. The keyboard parts are fabulous, suitably understated at times, but when called for in tracks like ‘Des Konigs Krieger’, they absolutely shine. Though there are some wonderful keyboard and guitar moments throughout, all musicians involved deserve a mention as they are of the highest order. In fact, the worst thing about this album, the very worst most infuriating thing about “Race Against Time” is that the band have had to fund this themselves and there isn’t a nice shiny record label logo on the back to take some of the pressure off them and allow them to grow even more in the future. This will surely happen while they keep putting out product like this one.

(8/10 Andy Barker)