Freedoms Reign: Freedoms Reign

Heavy metal class from apostrophe-averse axeman

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Victor Arduini – last spotted playing guitar with Connecticut prog-metal pioneers Fates Warning in the mid-80s – here resurfaces with a very capable debut album of slick, beefy and elegant US metal that’s considerably worthier and classier than the tattooed-angel-in-handcuffs sleeve, stencil font and missing apostrophe would suggest.

Victor’s vocals are an appealing blend of Ozzy, Eric Wagner from Trouble and Katatonia’s Jonas Renske, and that’s a good pointer to the music, too: crunchy, weighty, melodic and accessible HM, with classic rock vibes, a gently progressive sheen and lashings of wah-wah. Victor also plays the solos, and they’re gorgeous, tuneful, exuberant and expressive.

And although there aren’t many riffs or choruses that will live in the memory for long, this is nevertheless a consistently solid, playable first offering from a new name that we’re sure to see more of, and it’s heartening to see an unsung hero from metal’s distant past return with a promising new platter.