The band's debut, Brothers of the Night, isn't bad per say, but it doesn't have any substance that grabs a listener right off the bat, like that guitar riff or melody. In addition, the production used on the drums is incredibly irritating. Keith Byrd supposedly played the drums, but I've always held skepticism it being a drum machine due to an incredibly inorganic sound. To make things worse, vocals on the album are tremendously weak. Actually, scratch that. The clean vocals are tremendously weak. Am I implying that there's another style of vocals on the album...?
For some reason, Bryan Edwards (all vocals) utilized a technique called growling on nearly every song. For those of you unfamiliar with the terminology, growling is a common vocal characteristic of death metal--it doesn't work in power metal.
The second disk, Seven Kingdoms, sat next me, ready to be removed from its shrink wrap. As you probably expect, I didn't open it excitedly. Even so, I popped the album into my CD player and began listening.
I'd like to think the band sought redemption with me because the album has quickly fought its way to the top of my most listened list, and I was completely surprised to find that the band had changed vocalists. Vocals on Seven Kingdoms are done by a female (Sabrina Valentine), making it a drastic change from the first album. She's quite good. The drum sound was cleaned up to boot, with no production nuisances to be found.
In a similar fashion, the guitar parts are largely improved over the debut, meaning they are cleaner than Brothers of the Night's somewhat sloppy playing that got under my skin. Whether it was due the production or a lack of care, I'm not sure. Remnants of growling are scattered throughout the album, but they are far and between, making the listening a much more pleasant experience. I can effectively call their sophomore effort a success!