Sunday, February 24, 2013

St. Sebastiaan / Sound of Thunder

Well, well, well...guess who’s back? I hope you all had a good--whatever you have been doing since the last time we met. If it wasn’t metal, it wasn’t worth talking about, now was it? I know it’s been a long (way, way too long) time since you’ve been blessed with a beer review, so consider this a belated “the world didn’t end according to Mayan” blah-blah-blah. Today I’ve got a nice little nugget o’metal for you and my first foray back into Hops’ realm in almost a year.  I would say that I hope this doesn’t disappoint, but it won’t. Because you love me. And you love what I have to say. It’s okay, I’ll excuse you for a moment while I get this together.

First...THE BEER!!

St. Sebastiaan Dark Ale 

Wow, this is one hell of a beer to welcome me back into the game. St. Sebastiaan is a Belgian Dubbel (fruity malt-y type) style beer. My first pour left me with half a cup of foam, and what felt like not a whole lot of substance. I gave it a few minutes to settle, and I found that the foam settled nicely and gave me the weight that I initially thought I would get.
My first impression was that this was beer soda as this is a highly carbonated beer. (Seriously, I had to check to make sure I hadn’t just purchased the world’s oddest soft drink). Right away there was a bit of a sweetness, but it was almost immediately followed up with an overpowering sharpness. At first taste I figured I had bought a dud, and as I sat trying to think of what negative things I wanted to say about it, I found myself reaching more and more for my cup. That sharpness that I had initially perceived gave way to a nice velvet texture, and a crisp earthy flavor. Oddly enough, the dregs of the cup seem to be where all of the sweetness goes, making it very pleasant to just kind of draw out finishing up each glass. Yes, the beer is still a bit stronger that I usually sit down with in a casual setting (I have to be in a particular mood for a dark beer), but I found that repeated tastings have brought to light a very mellow, relaxing brew to just sort of end the day with. It wasn’t the eye poppingly awesome that I thought it was going to be, but this will definitely be on my special occasion list rotation. I have to admit I have been wanting to try this for a while, mainly because it is served in an awesome earthenware bottle. So I thought, well that beer has to be pretty damn awesome to come in its own jug. Seriously, look at that thing:


And now...THE METAL!!!

A Sound of Thunder-Queen of Hell EP

Today’s little nugget o’metal is A Sound of Thunder’s Queen of Hell EP. Before we get started, however, I would like to briefly mention that this band went under my radar for a very long time. I had seen them mentioned and caught bits and pieces of a few of their songs from the album Out of the Darkness, but I didn’t realize how awesome the band was until I bought said album and gave it a good listen. And then I immediately bought their new EP. A Sound of Thunder is best described as traditional metal (their label has them listed as power metal, but they are definitely the no-frills, Maiden-esque power metal if they have to be labeled as such) with the occasional
Alice Cooper camp. The singer, Nina Osegueda, has one of the most awesomely powerful voices (rock or metal) since Heart. And anybody who knows me and the fuck-all huge crush I have had on Ann Wilson (since I first heard Barracuda), knows that I don’t give that compliment lightly. that being said, The Queen of Hell EP illustrates the aforementioned union of awesome quite well in just three songs (there are four songs on the EP, but one is just an alternate version of the title track). Speaking of which, the title track is a crushing, fist-pumping call to arms (or Irons?) for A Sound of Thunder’s fans, and to metalheads in general. The galloping rhythm and the precision of the riffing usher in the legions and when the Queen speaks, by Crom we are compelled to listen! The next two songs, Hello Nurse and Trashed, are an A Sound of Thunder original and a Black Sabbath cover, respectively. Hello Nurse could have easily been taken from the Alice Cooper back catalogue; it is fun, violent, and dirty with spoken word sections adding to the Cooper theatrics. Trashed is one of Black Sabbath’s ‘80’s era songs. A Sound of Thunder captures that feeling of excessive speed and intoxication with a very faithful cover. Overall, Queen of Hell is a nice nibble from what promised to be a masterful metal album. So, I’m going to start stretching my arms, because there will be a lot of fist pumping when the new album finally drops.


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