Thursday 21 February 2019

The Three Tremors - The Three Tremors (2019)

Country: USA
Style: Heavy/Power Metal
Rating: 5/10
Release Date: 18 Jan 2019
Sites: Facebook | Metal Archives | Official Website

Apparently, back in the early years of this millennium, Bruce Dickinson, Rob Halford and Geoff Tate, three of the most famous air raid sirens in the history of heavy metal, planned to put together a project called The Three Tremors, as an obviously metal take on the Three Tenors. It never really happened, beyond live renditions of Halford's 2000 track The One You Love to Hate, but, last year, a different trio took up that idea and ran with it, creating a project that has now resulted in a full length album.

That these particular three singers sound like those three singers is not accidental. Tim 'Ripper' Owens started out in a Judas Priest tribute band called British Steel before actually becoming Rob Halford's replacement in Judas Priest. Harry 'The Tyrant' Conklin may be a founding member of Jag Panzer, for whom he's sung since 1981, but he also sings in an Iron Maiden tribute band called Powerslave 2000. That leaves Sean 'The Hell Destroyer' Peck, of Cage and Death Dealer fame, who even looks like Rob Halford.

The problem that this project has is that each of these singers is easily capable enough to carry songs and albums on their own. None of them needs help from anyone else so, generally speaking, when one of them is doing his thing, the other two aren't, or, if they are, we're not hearing it. Occasionally, they do provide texture, like when they layer their voices in The Pit Shows No Mercy, but that happens too rarely.

Mostly, when they're singing together, they sound similar enough to each other that it takes a lot of attention to distinguish them. Mostly, when we hear a Bruce Dickinson voice in a lower register, we expect that it's Conklin, while the higher Rob Halford voice is surely Owens and Peck must be the rest, except that, when watching the video for Wrath of Asgard, it seems that Peck is the primary Halford voice. So who knows? Maybe we shouldn't listen to this album but watch it so that we can see who's singing.

Comparing the differences of Domingo, Carreras and Pavarotti was much of the point of the Three Tenors, but, far too often, this descends into a sort of competition as to who can scream the highest. There are points where this is Painkiller as the opposite of a limbo dance and that's stupid. "We have to go higher," they sing on When the Last Scream Fades. No. No, you don't.

The question on every song here is whether it benefits from having three singers rather than one and the answer is generally a no. There are a few moments when it really works, such as at the end of When the Last Scream Fades, but mostly they could have taken turns on different tracks or even each recorded the entire album separately to pretty much the same effect.

And I do wonder how that would have sounded! The musicians playing up a storm behind the three leads are the same musicians who back Peck in his regular band, so this could easily be seen as a Cage album with a couple of prominent guest vocalists. Arguably, the band have less opportunity to shine individually in this framework, but they do a fine job nonetheless.

Much of this is up tempo power metal that occasionally reaches the levels of speed metal bands like Exciter or Razor and not only on the songs with titles as overtly transparent as Speed to Burn. That sounds uncannily like Agent Steel covering Judas Priest once it gets going. When they slow down, like on Wrath of Asgard, they don't lose power at all, though it's cheesy as all get out.

"We're here to make you feel alive," they sing on the title track and I'm buying into that energy. This isn't the overblown vanity project that some people are suggesting and it's not that bad a power metal album on its own merits, though it does end better than it begins. As an album it's decent, hardly groundbreaking but enjoyable nonetheless.

However, as a concept, it's a failure. The whole point is to bring three singers with powerful voices together and this album highlights how that doesn't work. There's almost nothing here that wouldn't have sounded just as good with only One Tremor.

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