Despite how morally questionable it might seem, the spirit of albums like Millennium’s self-titled 1984 debut LP were kept alive for decades through piracy until it’s No Remorse reissue in 2014. Chances are even if you’re a big huge NWOBHM loving jeans-jacketed freak who has everything, you didn’t have that record. It’s a shame because Millennium were of the ilk that’d rather play off a Thin Lizzy riff than sound too much like Maiden in 1984 and ‘Millennium’ remains a close cousin to similar albums from groups by Quartz, Holocaust and Diamond Head. Much of that same sentiment remains on their second album 33 years later, though they’ve been modernized by proxy of production and new recruits since.
A big part of the band’s history is missing from my mental database here because I have not yet gotten a copy of their 2016 release ‘Caught in a Warzone’ which archives their demo sessions leading up to an unfinished second full-length in 1985. So, I can’t really speak to what was used and wasn’t used from those old sessions but I would assume very little considering the time between. Apparently guitarist Wil Philpot put up an ad for like-minded musicians back in 2015 and ended up the guitarist for the reformation of an ancient NWOBHM band featuring most key members in their 80’s line-up family. I think it is an awesome story to start with, and the album they’ve come up with a couple years later ‘Awakening’ is a strong heavy metal record with some smart speed metal kicks here and there to keep the old boys moving.
Though the guitar work is the prominent mover and shaker here, you can’t ignore the vocals of Mark Duffy. After Millennium called it quits he rounded out thrash band Toranaga‘s line-up and ‘Bastard Ballads‘ was my introduction to his early-Hetfield like style and he hasn’t lost his abrupt style across decades of thrash projects, though he revisits the somewhat more melodic style of Millennium for this release. I see his performance as on par with what Brian Ross brought to his several returns to Blitzkrieg over the years, a bit more clarity and expression without trying to sound pure 80’s. Though the songwriting isn’t as sharp as Satan‘s return on their last few albums I’d say this is as worthy as similar comebacks from Angel Witch and Quartz. The original spirit of the band is there and well improved upon to a point where it doesn’t feel like an entirely new project under an old name.
As I listened to the album and began to better understand the general call to arms it’s lyrical themes represented, the more I really began to appreciate it’s messaging. The lyrics reflect upon defiance of ignorance and generally encourage a free-thinking rebellion against bullshit. Heavy metal has such potential to be an inspiring medium for socio-politically responsible thought yet it can still remain timeless and not mired in ultra-specifics. There are few things I appreciate more than a call to reason, and that seems to be the message of ‘Awakening’, anyhow. I suppose my only real criticism is that much of the album is structured like a thrash album and some of it’s second half bleeds together without greater melodic variation. Duffy is at his best roaring but I thought some of his performance could use a bit more harmonizing to accentuate the heavier moments of songs like “Witch Hunt”. ‘Awakening’ ends up fitting in somewhere closer to the speed/heavy metal (minus the bad groove riffing) of more recent Overkill records rather than other more recent NWOBHM revivalist bands and I would recommend it more to fans of heavy/speed metal projects rather than die-hard 80’s metal purists. If you’re looking for tracks to preview I’d suggest “Awakening”, “Witch Hunt” and “Searching” as highlights to start, and if you’re interested give it a full spin.
|Released||October 25, 2017|
|BUY/LISTEN on their Official Website||Follow Millennium on Facebook|
Don’t look back. 3.5/5.0
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