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A Crisis Of Faith

Self-released (2018)
Rating: 8.5/10

Four years have passed since trad’ metallers Kaine graced our ears with the impressive The Waystone in 2014, and things haven’t been easy for this unruly bunch of Brits. Like many bands, Kaine has been no stranger to a few line-up changes as well as the challenges modern life brings when it comes to being in an outfit that just isn’t getting the recognition it deserves, but thankfully the combo has powered through and the result is A Crisis Of Faith.

The band’s third album comes complete with eye-catching cover design and ten sturdy tracks, compiled by the current line-up of Rage Sadler (guitar and vocals), Chris MacKinnon (drums, synths and vocals), Saxon Davids (guitar and backing vocals) and Stephen Ellis (bass and synth).

A Crisis Of Faith opens with ‘Heaven’s Abandonment’, which is introduced to us with a Metallica-esque acoustic slant, before spreading its wings and elegantly transforming into an almost poppy sway until a killer riff comes charging in. Here, we’re treated to what Kaine does best; a rambling, rollicking Iron Maiden-esque gallop with the ensemble dishing out devilishly catchy hooks steeled by MacKinnon’s solid backbeat and Sadler’s gritty vocal burps. It’s classy metal, but that’s what I expected from this criminally underrated act who on their last album displayed high levels of maturity and complexity, and that consistency runs deep with this.

The band, unlike so many other “revival” acts, refuse to rest on their laurels, and so while the gallops fizz by, there’s still time for variety, with the quartet hinting at progressive segments and lower tempo manoeuvres before pounding us with a thrashy chug. The chorus is wonderfully catchy as the bass of Ellis trickles effortlessly, while the twin axe attack constructs a steely wall of oomph.

But it’s on ‘Fall Of Jericho’ where the band really comes to life. A bubbling bass and strutting guitar adds an almost funky flavour, while the solo provides an Eastern influence before the marrying of chords. There’s also a strong early 90s feel to proceedings – maybe it’s the influence of touring with energetic American rockers Mordred? But for me, this track has a real vibe and sees the band emerging from any possible previous comfort zones to present a plumage that flutters and flickers with many colours. Indeed, ardent fans may be a little surprised by the swing, but it’s a deviation which can only benefit Kaine. This is clearly a band that has an ability to shift between styles and with some grace.

The majestic air of ‘A Night Meets Death’ enables us to appreciate Kaine as a solid ball of rock. This is a steady New Wave Of British Heavy Metal groove where Rage Sadler moves away from his gnarly stance initially as the guitars grate. My only slight grievance here being the rather thin production – unless that’s just my ears deceiving me – but it doesn’t fully distract us from what is a nice, cheery groove reinforced by that nifty drum and bass.

The title track comes marching in majestically, again strengthened by the meaty drum kick and that catchy lick. Sadler provides a reflective yet thoughtful vocal performance as once again we’re led to a catchy chorus where the singer states, “I just don’t know what to do in a crisis of faith, I just don’t know where to go… or is it too late?”

At times, the combo resort to some really interesting and unpredictable passages; almost progressive in their turns and less weighty too, suggesting that these guys have morphed into a hard rock unit with purple flashes, rather than an out-and-out metal beast. ‘Afterlife’ is a prime example of this; an almost sweeping, yet frosty intro which eventually melts into a full raging stomper with thrashy connotations and twiddling leads.

With ‘Frailty Of the Blade (Stephen’s Song)’ the band returns to that more familiar steely gallop, but there’s still so many other ingredients to savour within this construction; slow, evocative passages, with flecks of intricacy flowing. This is again exemplified with the almost aching trudge of ‘Voice In Hell’, with its unwavering grate before it becomes a full throttle groove and boy am I reminded of Mordred via Vision (1992) and Voivod at their Angel Rat (1991) dreaminess.

The early 90s was a time when so much progression, flavour and colour was creeping into the works of bands brave enough to break from the mould. In turn supplying flecks of soul, strands of funkiness and slaps of prog. And that’s what I keep hearing here; a band expanding, flourishing and going with their flow, but at once banging their heads against a brick wall because not enough people are hearing in spite of Chris MacKinnon adding extra vocal encouragement. Kaine effortlessly fuse that New Wave Of British Heavy Metal ethos with more charming, flavoursome traits, and ‘Voice Of Hell’ really does show us where they are at.

‘Behind The Preacher’s Eyes’ is a tad more direct; a rollicking metal number, but again the chorus is communicable and dreamy. ‘The Mind Is Willing’ follows suit; another contagious hard rock groove where MacKinnon comes to the fore vocally and with percussion. With this track the band certainly shifts into the modern, while progressive components leak into play too – the solos flitting between bass bubbles before the combo marries a traditional gallop with a more jarring, unpredictable flair.

There’s certainly an air of the sublime about the whole manner of this addictive record, but it’s one that deserves many spins in order to appreciate its full quality. And as a majestic piano threads its way through closer ‘Alone (In My Forgotten Rage)’ we are suddenly hit by a classy Iron Maiden meets Thin Lizzy groove, but with contemporary tweaks. Again MacKinnon shines as Sadler and Davids come together to form a glorious wall of sound that shifts from a deadly riff to a thinner veil of kaleidoscopic guise, in turn making way for Ellis’ bass. “I gave you everything I had, but I was never enough” barks Sadler, with that underlying vocal current of MacKinnon, and one can only hope that through all the effort to make their voices heard that Kaine will be eventually get their just rewards.

Neil Arnold

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