Anticipation. A dangerous thing in certain circumstances. I’m sure that most of us have experienced anticipation at one time or another. Just as I’m sure that we have fallen victim to anticipation when it doesn’t live up to the hype that you’ve created in your own mind.
I remember as a kid wanting the Star Wars Millenium Falcon spaceship toy for Christmas. More than one Christmas or birthday in fact…..one of these days I’m gonna buy me one finally. And, yes, play with it like a big kid! I still own all my Star Wars figures even. I asked Mom, I asked Dad. Asked my Aunt and Uncle, I asked grandpa and grandma. I asked Santa. Basically, anyone that would listen. The morning of December 25th rolled around and I near wet myself with excitement and you guessed it anticipation! But it turned out that the large gift under the tree was NOT the Millenium Falcon. No matter what it was it just wouldn’t live up to my anticipation of getting Han Solo’s freighter.
Here we are now a few years later and even though I’m still really just a big kid (hence still wanting a Millenium Falcon) I’m a little more wary of anticipation and hyping myself up. So when I discovered a band and their debut album that quickly flew to my ever growing and already unmanageably long list of ultimate favorites, I was guarded. An album that appeared in my top ten for the year it was released. A band that on two occasions I had taken a 6-hour bus ride to see them play an opening set. Only to bus it again six hours home overnight and straight to work the next morning. I’m speaking of Ottawa, Canada’s power metal force, Shock and their Once Denied album from 2013.
Anticipation reared its ugly head once again during the announcement that a sophomore effort was in the works. How often does the sequel live up to the original? Just look at films such as Back to the Future, Indiana Jones, Ghostbusters, the list goes on. (Authors note: Star Wars-The Empire Strikes Back is the pure exception to the rule). But it was even worse now as I had become friends with the band, having reviewed the album for two websites aside from Decibel Geek (SHOCK-ing The Meister), reviewed their concert opening for Blaze Bayley (my first 6 hrs trip) (A SHOCK-ing Thanksgiving in Ottawa), featured one of their songs on the Decibel Geek Podcast during the yearly Canadian takeover (Episode #112: Hoser Heavy Metal Hour), and had a lengthy phone chat with bassist Steve Monette which I whittled down into this interview: Interview with Steve Monette.
I never had an inkling of fear until Steve reached out and forwarded me an advance copy of Shock’s sophomore effort, Forewarned, set for release November 13, 2015 (yes, that’s a Friday the 13th to boot!). What if I don’t like it? How do I review it? How do I tell the band?
SHOCK – Forewarned (Album Review)
I’m happy to report, I worried myself for no reason! Forewarned is every bit as good as its predecessor, Once Denied. Different, but still a fantastic metal album. Less in the forefront are the catchy infectious hooks found on Once Denied in favor of a more thrash flavor of material in some instances. And I will admit it did take a few spins to really sink in, but the addiction is taking hold once again.
Forewarned starts off with the chugging riff assaults of “Bend or Break”, which remains instrumental for about 45 seconds before Tony Ve’s vocals jump into the mix. No real catchy chorus, but a well-structured song and a nice flourishing guitar solo supplied by Tony Ve. Track two is the lead single “Sonic Assault”, for which the lyric video appears below. Shock has done a great job here of giving this track a real personality, harkening me back to the live experiences as described in the lyrical content.
“Collide” sits at number three, keeping the pace fast and heavy. Shock’s newest member is drummer Taylor Calderone who makes his first recorded appearance with Shock on this album. Calderone’s thunderous beats drive each and every song forward and he is a fantastic fit despite the stark age difference between him and the other band members. Having caught Shock set the stage for Canadian thrash champs Annihilator in my second 6 hr adventure, I was already familiar with “Patriot” since they played it during that set. This song is what thrash metal should be with its riff, tempo changes, backing vocal shouts and identifiable chorus.
…the back half
Unfortunately, like Once Denied, Forewarned is only 8 tracks long and could really do with another couple of additions, or is that just me wishing? Into the second half, we have the brooding beginnings of “The Reins That Lead”. Another ripping thrash infused sonic assault as both guitarists, John Tennant and Tony Ve, wield their weapons of music high and fast. Calderone‘s rhythm section partner, bassist Steve Monette lays down some thick, meaty basslines throughout the duration of Forewarned and its collection of songs.
“Barely Alive” starts out pounding on a crash course that doesn’t let up for the three minutes of length. Like Once Denied, each song here is monstrous in a true sonic assault where there’s no room for ballads, just the way me likes it :). “Ringleader” throttles along including some identifiable catchy lyrical segments and a chanting gang vocal chorus.
Forewarned’s final entry, “Not If But When” is perhaps the best in an arena of stiff competition. I love this track and its shadows of the hooky riffs of Once Denied, a fine closer to another fine effort. Forewarned is currently making its way to Japan with me, as I write this from the airplane even! The Meister has been re-Shocked!
SHOCK – Forewarned (Final Words)
It’s hard to believe that Shock is not a little more of a household name and are still unsigned! The band, from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada was making huge waves in the music scene in the mid to late 80’s, even garnering a reputation as the best-unsigned band in Canada at the time. Unfortunately, they broke up in 1990 after becoming frustrated in the finding of a suitable record deal and the members went on to other things. 2011 saw Shock reform with “a burning urge that they must address” and unleashing their debut album, Once Denied, in May of 2013 almost 30 years after their inception!
Now trust me and go and buy Forewarned through the band’s site, crank it real loud when you get it. If your ears ain’t bleeding keep cranking! Your neighbors will love it, I promise.