Jacob's Dream - Theater Of War

Year of Release: 2001
Label: Metal Blade
Catalog Number: 14363
Format: CD
Total Time: 48:35:00

Theater Of War is the 2001 release from metal band Jacob's Dream, their second. As the title suggests, the theme explored here is war, mainly with biblical overtones expressed through references to figures in the bible (e.g. Cain in the title track), or to concepts (greed, for example, in "Traces Of Grace").

On the whole it is an okay release, one that doesn't quite hit the mark. The bottom end of the bass sounds a little hollow, though this kind of thudding sound is typical of the genre. Listening to the music, you will recognize their influences - they aren't just worn on their sleeves, but have formed a whole body suit. Of course, it's too easy to say that Jacob's Dream's sound like a hybrid of Iron Maiden, Queensryche with an occasionally pinch of Rush and leave it at that. It will give you the right impression of the band, though there's something a little different in the guitar solos that seem influenced by neither band (and later I'll make an unexpected-for-this-style comparison). Actually, though I like vocalist David Taylor's Tate/Dickinson like voice, it's the guitars that really sound the best.

What you get here are crunchy, loping rhythms with operatic, theatrical vocals, swirling, chugging guitars. 80s metal influenced to be sure, but just a little crunchier. This fairly much describes much of the material on the album. "Theater Of War" is an aggressive attack that features the keyboard like synth guitar of John Berry, heard again on "Wisdom" This is one of the two tracks that stood out for me, the overall sound reminded me of the early Threshold albums, where Taylor reminds me a bit of higher pitched Damien Wilson. Of course, the arrangement is a little more traditional than the proggier arrangements of Threshold. One does long for real keyboards however, as the guitar synths sounds, to me, a little too?erm, synthy (dry and wheezy). It is not used to good effect at all on the instrumental "De Machina Est Deo," where they are too thin and squeaky, and detract from what is otherwise a fairly good track.

"Sarah Williams" is mellower than anything else on the album which features a chiming, crystalline guitar (a la Steve Rothery, unexpectedly), acoustic guitar, and vocals delivered in a balladic manner. While Taylor sounds mostly like Tate, he also sounds a bit like Pendragon's Nick Barrett at times here, too (along with more hints at Wilson). There is an achingly sweet guitar solo that underscores the achingly delivered lyrics of regret? It is a piece about a man's regret at having killed the titular character, a woman loved and respected by the community, in what seems like an alcohol-induced act of violence. Giving the song a name for a title, and the use of that name at the end of the song, indicates there might some significance. But, as this is not a narrative concept album, well, there is no context. In other words, we don't know this woman from any of the other victims indicated in the other songs about war, and so this "name reveal" doesn't have any impact. Ah, but I'm being nitpicky here?

Theater Of War, is, overall, a bit better than average release that suggests the band will have a future in this genre, even if they don't break far ahead from the pack.

Sanctuary (4:45) / Theater Of War (4:46) / Traces Of Grace (5:25) / Wisdom (5:34) / The Warning (4:21) / Sarah Williams (7:07) / De Machina Est Deo (3:42) / Black Souls (3:50) / Critical Mass (5:25)

John Berry - guitars and guitar synth
Derek Eddleblute - guitar
James Evans - bass
David Taylor - vocals
Billy Queen - drums

Jacob's Dream (2000)
Theater Of War (2001)
Drama Of The Ages (2005)
Dominion Of Darkness (2008)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin US

Added: November 16th 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.jacobsdream.info
Hits: 817
Language: english


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