Artist: Millennial Reign
Album Title: The Great Divide
Label: Ulterium Records
Date of Release: 25 May 2018
Over recent years, Ulterium Records have had a knack of releasing some rather decent albums. Be it the latest Theocracy or Waken Eyes records, the label has managed to employ a high level of quality control of late, leading to some highly commendable and enjoyable music, particularly in the broad realm of melodic metal.
So, despite never previously hearing a note of their music, I had high hopes for ‘The Great Divide’, the new album from Millennial Reign, the third of the American melodic power metal band’s career. The front cover artwork is excellent for starters; very striking and impressive. And, coupled with the current track record of Ulterium, I had no hesitation in sitting down and listening to ‘The Great Divide’.
Unfortunately, my optimism proved to be short-lived I’m afraid. I never cease to be disappointed when an album fails to live up to my expectations and so it is with a heavy heart that I must report that ‘The Great Divide’ is not the record that I hoped it would be.
That said, it would be unfair of me to paint a picture that gives you the impression that this is a bad record. My overall disappointment and dissatisfaction stems more from the fact that there are a few too many ingredients that don’t work for my personal tastes.
At its heart, ‘The Great Divide’ is a perfectly decent slab of keyboard-heavy, almost symphonic melodic power metal that offers enough crunch and heaviness through the riffs of guitarist Dave Harvey to satisfy their metal credentials. There are solos aplenty, the rhythm section of drummer Steve Nichols and bassist Neil Bertrand is forceful and urgent as you’d expect from this genre of music and there’s even a vague hint of prog here and there. So you’d think I should lap this up, wouldn’t you?
To begin with, the melodies just don’t strike a chord with me, even after repeated spins where I initially hoped the record would be a slow burner, eventually growing on me. Unfortunately not. Each of the ten tracks offers a big chorus and plenty of melodious intent. But for some reason, they fail to inspire me and I just don’t connect with them as hard as I try. I fully accept that this is subjectivity in all its glory, so others will probably wonder what on Earth I’m talking about. However, I can only be honest and speak as I find.
Then there are the vocals. Travis Wills is a new addition to the Millennial Reign ranks and I’m unable to compare his output to what went before. What I can say though, is that I find Wills’ output distinctly average. Again, he does nothing wrong per se, it’s just that I don’t hear anything sensational within his delivery – it is the kind of mid-to-higher range output familiar with the power metal genre and as earnest and competent as he undeniably is, I’m left feeling underwhelmed. In fact, at times, some of the higher notes actually begin to grate on me.
Add to this some unremarkable keyboards that threaten to overrun proceedings on more than one occasion, a few tracks that overstay their welcome even at less than six minutes in length and a production that too often emphasises the wrong elements of the music, and I’m not left with much to praise from my standpoint.
In a genre that is as competitive as ever, and with a few bands pulling out all the stops to wow us, Millennial Reign’s ‘The Great Divide’ feels distinctly second-rate and is likely to get lost in the crowd. I’m afraid that I’m unable to recommend it, unless you’re a die-hard fan of the band or the genre in general. In which case, give it a listen and find out if there’s anything in it for you.
The Score of Much Metal: 5.5
If you’ve enjoyed this review, you can check out my others from 2018 and from previous years right here:
At The Gates – To Drink From The Night Itself
Dimmu Borgir – Eonian
Hekz – Invicta
Widow’s Peak – Graceless EP
Ivar Bjørnson and Einar Selvik – Hugsjá
Frequency Drift – Letters to Maro
Æpoch – Awakening Inception
Crematory – Oblivion
Wallachia – Monumental Heresy
Skeletal Remains – Devouring Mortality
MØL – Jord
Aesthesys – Achromata
Kamelot – The Shadow Theory
Barren Earth – A Complex of Cages
Memoriam – The Silent Vigil
Kino – Radio Voltaire
Borealis – The Offering
W.E.T. – Earthrage
Auri – Auri
Purest of Pain – Solipsis
Susperia – The Lyricist
Structural Disorder – …And The Cage Crumbles In the Final Scene
Necrophobic – Mark of the Necrogram
Divine Realm – Nordicity
Oceans of Slumber – The Banished Heart
Poem – Unique
Gleb Kolyadin – Gleb Kolyadin
Apathy Noir – Black Soil
Deathwhite – For A Black Tomorrow
Conjurer – Mire
Jukub Zytecki – Feather Bed/Ladder Head
Lione/Conti – Lione/Conti
Usurpress – Interregnum
Kælling – Lacuna
Vinide – Reveal
Armored Dawn – Barbarians In Black
Long Distance Calling – Boundless
In Vain – Currents
Harakiri For The Sky – Arson
Orphaned Land – Unsung Prophets And Dead Messiahs
Tribulation – Down Below
Machine Head – Catharsis
Bjorn Riis – Coming Home EP
Twilight’s Embrace – Penance EP
Bloodshot Dawn – Reanimation
Rise of Avernus – Eigengrau
Arch Echo – Arch Echo
Asenblut – Legenden
Bleeding Gods – Dodekathlon
Watain – Trident Wolf Eclipse