Queen Of Distortion – Checkmate!

Checkmate! Album Cover Art

Queen Of Distortion – Checkmate!
Green Bronto Records
Release Date: 02/07/2021
Running Time: 53:25
Review by Simon Black

Checkmate! is the debut full-length album for this German-based five piece, all of whom are experienced players coming together for this project. They’ve been going since 2018 and have previously released an EP and a live EP, but this has clearly been delayed by Covid, hence the rather unusual sequencing of the live offering before a studio full length debut. Musically this is straight up twin-guitar fuelled good old Heavy Metal, with solid riffage, subtle but technically effective melodic structural integrity and a restrained level of flourish on top. I can’t really fault any of the song-writing either, as these songs are well-crafted and structured, if a little bit predictable.

Vocalist Chris T’Anti, interestingly, is a newcomer to the Metal world though, having started her career as a vocal coach and has sung in more mainstream projects to date but is absolutely front and centre of the mix. She can deliver an edge and has the roughness that can work well in the genre, but comes across a bit like she is forcing herself too rigidly to follow the melodic riff structure and phrasing the guitars are rendering – much like a Thrash vocalist who has fifty per cent of their focus on the instrument hanging round their neck might tend to, rather than being freer with the melody lines – although you get a hint of what she is capable of with her overlaid vocal backing vocals, which stretch the envelope a bit. For an album full of experienced musicians though it has an unusual, almost unfinished feel as if the band are still finding their voice. I think an element of this lies with T’Anti needing to develop the confidence to let rip with her more natural (and considerable) vocal talents.

However, when a track like ‘Torn From Life’ comes along that difference is stark and clear. Whereas the majority of the songs show her phrasing and delivery in quite a fixed, gravelly and staccato light, this track (at nearly seven minutes the longest on the album) is a Power Ballad, that opens gently and sees her singing properly and opening up in a completely different way. At this point she is utterly entrancing. I guess the point I am trying to make is that the more overtly Metal tracks on here see her trying to be a Metal singer, rather than just being a singer, who is in a Metal band. From this point onwards some of the songs show her balancing the two styles a little bit more frequently, but I can’t help feeling that if she had opened up and just sang her heart out with the clear, powerful and emotionally wrought set of lungs and voice box that this track delivers, more consistently on the rest of the tracks, then this would have been an absolute belter of an album.

‘Bloody Rain’ (Official Lyric Video)

01. Throne Of Destruction
02. Bloody Rain
03. New Order
04. Electrified
05. Threatening Stalemate
06. Four Horsemen
07. Save Yourself
08. Torn From Life
09. Rest In Pieces
10. Into The Void
11. Checkmate!
12. People Without Tears
13. Nightmares

Chris T’Anti – Vocals
Torsten Schirmer – Guitar
Mike Richter – Guitar
Carsten Bätge – Bass, Backing Vocals, Keyboards
Holger Schilling – Drums


Queen Of Distortion Promo Pic

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