If you were as impressed with this bands first release as I was, then you were probably chomping at the bit to hear "Theater of War". Well, it's here and MAN am I impressed. This power metal band has taken what they did on their debut on Metal Blade and improved upon it greatly. Any weak spots on their first release...vocals a tad too high in spots, drum sound a little annoying, etc, have been completely corrected here. David Taylor's vocals are very mature and much more under control. Yes, he still gets just as high, but it sounds much better than last time. The production is better too, so the drums sound much more powerful. Heck, everything sounds better. The way I'm hyping this up you'd think the last album stunk. Not at all, it's just that this one sounds much more professionally done. The music is a bit heavier on this release which does nothing but excite me. The guitar playing is probably the biggest thing these guys have going for them. John Berry and Derek Eddleblute just tear it up. Very heavy grooves and some terrific solos abound.
Lyrically, these guys have so much good stuff to say. It's obvious that they take a great deal of time on writing good lyrics. The emotion pouring out is clear in every song. "Traces of Grace" states: "We live in fragile bodies, struck with mortality/The sands of time are running/Lost to the realm of eternity/So, tell me this my brother, my sister if you please/What's your defining purpose at this point of reality?" The song ends with "I'm yearning for freedom, from chains of this bondage/I'm hoping, reaching, searching for traces of grace." Really good stuff that hopefully the non-Christian will pick up on. Other amazing lyrics show up in one of the best ballads I've ever heard, "Sarah Williams". The songs is about a drunk driver who realizes all the pain and suffering he has caused and is very repentant. He begs..."There's no excuses for what I've done/There are no words that can change the past/Oh, but I, I can't deny/I've killed an angel/While the whiskey demon burned my soul/I took the life of Sarah Williams/Now I stand and face this bitter hell/Oh, Sarah Williams, if you could hear/Would you forgive me?" Wow!! Very powerful! Check out the Jacob's Dream interview in the Interview section for more background on this awesome song. My favorite songs on this release are "Sarah Williams", "Wisdom", and "Black Souls", but every song is terrific. The cover artwork is also really cool which adds to an already perfect release.
I've tried to find fault with this band, but I'm loving every second of it. This definitely tops their debut. If you get the opportunity I would not pass this one up. The band has put out a masterpiece that is definitely one of the best releases in a year of great releases by tons of other bands like Saviour Machine, Balance of Power, and Narnia among others. (Review by Matt)