Swedish power/thrash metal band Denied healthily represent a sect of metal that I’ve almost defiantly avoided over the years. The pure cheese of melodic heavy metal often borders on schlock-rock of AOR so closely that I cannot warm up to it. This has more to do with my taste than any fault of Denied‘s, though. The use of vibrato in traditional heavy metal vocals can go two ways. One path is that of Dio, the master, who had such amazing control of his voice that he sounded ten times as big as he was. And then there is the HammerFall end of the spectrum, with no offense to HammerFall intended, where the vocalist is so unsuccessfully melodic that he relies on vibrato for inflection so often that it becomes comical. You should really just shrug this rant off because I am so rarely a fan of melodic power metal, but I’m far beyond enjoying vocal trills and excessive vibrato for the sake of sounding ‘old school’. To me it is the traditional heavy metal equivalent of barfed-sounding vocals in goregrind.
Were Denied‘s fourth full-length ‘Freedom of Speech’ not choked out by it’s howling melodic singing, much of it would remain interesting. Their sound has long relied on groove metal guitar riffs and yet this album is powered exclusively by heavy/power metal arrangements. Very little of it is exciting but enough of ‘Freedom of Speech’ is driven by guitars that I could enjoy it. From the opener’s dramatic introduction “Alive” to the Maiden-esque “The Ferryman” and the relative thrust of “False Truth” Denied deliver some of the thrash metal attitude conveyed on the cover art, but ultimately their style is focused on modernization of traditional heavy metal tropes.
Though my favorite part is probably the cover of underrated Twisted Sister track “Stay Hungry” there wasn’t a ton else to cling onto throughout my experience with ‘Freedom of Speech’. It wasn’t for lack of quality of recording but rather a style of heavy metal that I don’t find redeeming after hearing so many years of it as well as small quirks in the vocalist’s style that I’ve likewise heard enough of. I’m more inclined to recommend a more recent Artillery, Jag Panzer or Agent Steel record for this half-thrashed metal with a power metal vocalist. But hey, not my area of expertise so listen for yourself and decide on your own.
|Released||February 13, 2018|
|Listen on Spotify||Follow Denied on Facebook|
Feed a scarred soul. 2.5/5.0
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