Curse of the Artizan

On their full-length debut Curse of the Artizan, Florida-based Artizan walk a line between the classic sounds of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden and a lighter weight brand of power metal, detouring just occasionally for some prog. The results are mixed. When it’s good, it’s really good, but too often, it doesn’t quite work.

Artizan’s music should be built around the guitar of Shamus McConney and the drums of Ty Tammeus. They’re the two elements that really stand out in the sound on just about every track. McConney’s riffs are often gnarly and heavier than the songs end up being, and Tammeus pounds the drums at times with a vengeance. When they’re paired up, without vocals, the album is pretty interesting. Tom Braden, while a good singer, comes from the power metal mode, and the vocals are often just a little too smooth and clean for the music. I think most of the songs call for a little more grit and energy than Braden delivers.

That said, Curse of the Artizan is still an interesting record. It’s often quite catchy, and delivers a nice mix of sounds within the melodic metal range. The opening guitar riff and drum smacks of “Trade the World,” for example, evoke early Metallica, and you’ll hear that again in other songs throughout the record. The song turns into a more traditional metal lope, while the vocals owe more to power metal. It’s a little flat on the chorus, but still a good song. McConney delivers a nice meaty riff on “Rise,” that’s a little darker and meaner than the rest, and the album closing title track will bring more recent Iron Maiden to mind with its quiet, dramatic opening, galloping shifts and quiet interludes. It offers more opportunities for McConney and Tammeus to shine.

There are moments that suit Braden a little better. “Fire” opens with an acoustic piece before picking up the energy. It’s reminiscent on the verse, at times, of Dream Theater, and the vocals work better in that context. There’s more nice riffing on the tune, but that’s a constant throughout. “Game within a Game” is one of the more interesting tracks on the record, and possibly the best. The band really explores its progressive side a little more on the tune. Bassist Jonathan Jennings Jr. gets his moment early on, and the style, which is a bit different from everything else on the record, is really a sound that works for Braden.

Ultimately, I remain torn on Curse of the Artizan. As much as I like “Game within a Game,” which is the most consistent track, I really like the music from the more traditional, old school numbers much better. It just doesn’t quite all come together on those songs, though. I like the record, but it’s not always enough to hit all the right notes. I really need a little more grit, power and feeling.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Fred Phillips
July 22nd, 2011


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