Comprised of Mathew Whaley (vocals/bass), Tom Madera (guitar), and Bryan Walker (vocals/drums), Pillars of Creation give one a reason why they should be paying attention to the metal scene in Las Vegas.
Their new album Control, released earlier this month, is heavy. I mean, really heavy. I, having played on the same stage with some of these guys at the Chris Cornell benefit last year, expected something closer to their calm and soft spoken personalities.
As soon as opening track "Prey for the Damned" began and I heard the double bass pedal going, I had a hunch I was in for more than I bargained for. Walker's drums are hard and fast, and Madera's guitar work matches it perfectly. It has kind of a Pantera feel to it. Add in Walker's vocals, which are growls and screams of anger and anguish. There is a lot going on here. A bit of Pantera, a dash of Cradle of Filth, a pinch of Slipknot, and a bit of Mercyful Fate, but it all works. There are time changes that literally should not fit, but they do.
The beginning of "Visitors" kind of reminded me of Marilyn Manson's "Cake and Sodomy" if it was sped up a hair, which is fine in my book. As soon as you get used to it though, it drops into that quick double bass again and becomes Metsatöll's "Küü", but without the Estonian flute.
I was glad to hear Whaley actually singing on this track instead of screaming the whole time, because if you have seen his solo shows and acoustic stuff, the guy has an amazing voice. Actual clean vocals on this track add exactly what it needs, especially given the lyrical content.
And can we talk for a minute about Madera's solos? Step aside Dave Mustaine. Seriously. Dude is a beast.
"Butcher" brings us back to the heaviness of the first two tracks on the album, and back to the screaming. Now, I know I keep saying screaming, but it's not in like a King Diamond or Dez Fafara (Coal Chamber) way. In other words, it's not piercing and grating after a while. It's more Phil Anselmo or Corey Taylor-esque.
"Never to Rise" is, in my opinion, the weakest song on the record. That's not to say it's bad. It's still great, but it is very choppy at times. That being said, it would be a great song to mosh to and would probably translate well live, but to just sit and listen to it, every time I'd get into it, the track would switch gears and go somewhere else, losing me in the process.
The final track on Control (which has been brought to my attention as being a Rush cover from 2112), "Overture/Temples of Syrinx" displays POC's obvious love of prog-rock bands like Rush, with a smidge of Dream Theatre and Yes in there as well. This mostly-instrumental piece (until about 4:45) showcases each member's talents with their musical weapons of choice. This is the first song where I can truly say I could hear the bass, which is a treat. Seriously, all of these guys are insanely talented, and even if you hate metal you will like this song.
My only complaint about this album, and it could just be my headphones, is that it is a bit treble heavy on the mix. It's a personal preference, but especially with this kind of music, I need some more bass to help beef up what the drums were doing. If I were able to hear that, then I would have given this a full 5/5. Regardless of that small critique, I give this a 4.5/5.
I think that these guys made a great album that showcased not only the Vegas metal scene well, but their individual talents. Whatever they are doing, works, and I am excited to hear more from them.
You can hear Control, as well as other tracks, on their Soundcloud HERE.
To purchase Control, go to the band's Facebook page HERE or if you are in the Vegas area, keep an eye out for upcoming shows!
PHOTO CREDIT: All photos ©Pillars of Creation - Used with Permission