Published on March 7th, 2021 | by Justin G.
Durbin: The Beast Awakens (Frontiers, 2021)
Best known for his hard rocking run on season 10 of American Idol, or perhaps his time fronting Quiet Riot, singer James Durbin is aiming for a classic heavy metal reinvention with his first album for the Frontiers label. Released under the simplified Durbin moniker, his latest album is titled The Beast Awakens, and that’s an appropriate title for what Durbin is going for here.
Durbin’s overall sound on The Beast Awakens is old school heavy metal. Think classic Judas Priest and Dio, with crunching rhythms, slick melodies and of course a major emphasis on Durbin’s considerable vocal talents. It’s simple, straight-up heavy metal (loaded with all the expected metal lyrical staples), and it’s executed well. Leadoff track “The Prince Of Metal” is a highlight, thanks in part to a delightfully cheesy video, and “Kings Before You,” which features Chris Jericho, is also memorable. The title track, “Calling Out For Midnight” and “Battle Cry” are standouts as well.
If The Beast Awakens had come out ten years ago, when bands like White Wizzard and Enforcer were breathing new life into the traditional metal scene, it might have generated more excitement. In 2021, and with so many good traditional metal bands out there, it doesn’t make quite as big an impact. It’s a fun listen, and I can’t fault anyone who wants to show their love for classic heavy metal, but it doesn’t measure up to bands like Haunt, Night Demon, Cauldron and Striker. It’s worth hearing if you’re already a James Durbin fan or you’re into old school heavy metal, but this feels like a “stream rather than buy” kind of album.
Summary: Solid, old-school heavy metal that seems about ten years too late