Friday, February 25, 2011

Titanic - Full Steam Ahead (2007)

Titanic got its start in the mid-nineties as a collaboration between guitarist Bill Menchen and vocalist Simon Tyler (aka: Keith Miles). The two hit the scene in 1996 with the driving metal of the bands full length debut Maiden Voyage before following up six years later with the more melodic based sound of its sophomore release Screaming In Silence. Full Steam Ahead, the most recent outing from Titanic, finds the group drawing upon the best elements of its first two albums to create by far its most noteworthy work to date. Heavy duty hard rockers “Dead Men’s Bones”, “Holy Ground”, “Deep Down” and “The Wind”, for example, would not sound out of place on Maiden Voyage, while the catchy hooks of “Shovel The Coal”, “Captain Of The Ship”, “Upon The Cross” and “The Sea” hearken back to Screaming In Silence. All in all, what Titanic delivers is an energetic blend of metal and hard rock that fans of Saint, Barren Cross, Ozzy, Judas Priest, Whitecross and Menchen’s other bands Final Axe and The Seventh Power will be certain to get into.

The main change to report in Titanic’s line up is the departure of long term vocalist Simon Tyler and the recruitment of his replacement David St. Andrew. First and foremost, I always been a fan of Tyler’s raspy vocal sensibilities (it is worth noting the major role he played in the bands history); that being said, newcomer St. Andrew takes things to the next level. Bringing a raw edged and gutsy vocal style that sounds like a combination of Kevin DuBrow (Quiet Riot) and Scott Wenzel (Whitecross), I find the guys gritty approach to be a nice change of pace. In a current metal environment imbued with so many high pitched and classic tenor vocalists – not that that is a bad thing – it is a welcome relief to finally hear a singer add some good old fashioned backbone to his delivery.

Founding member Bill Menchen, of course, puts on a virtual clinic on rhythm guitar, adorning the full length of the album with his mega tight sounding riffs (check out his work on “Dead Men’s Bones” and “Sons Of Thunder”). If anything, Full Steam Ahead can best be described as an album for those into a guitar driven sound of the aggressive and in your face variety (think Whitecross on steroids). And that is a very good thing. In my review of Screaming In Silence I made the statement that Menchen’s playing “can come across on the restrained side in that he rarely if ever cuts loose with any type of relevant lead guitar work”. Well, folks, I am happy to announce such is NOT the case here in that FSA is chock full of his adept soloing abilities. If in doubt, then check out the fiery side to his playing on “Shovel The Coal” and “Captain Of The Ship” or the bluesy stylings of “Deep Down” and “Holy Ground ”. Finally, it is worth pointing out that Menchen handles the albums bass guitar and keyboard duties and rounds out the rhythm section with drummer David White.

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Titanic - Full Steam Ahead (2007)

Tracks: (download for study)
01. Shovel the coal
02. Dead mens bones
03. Deep down
04. Captain of the Ship
05. Holy Ground
06. Sons of Thunder
07. Upon the cross
08. The wind
09. Wisdom
10. The Sea
11. Nightmare
12. Come Home