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James Durbin: The Beast Awakens
James Durbin - The Beast Awakens Album Art

James Durbin: The Beast Awakens

Heavy Metal Rock
4.5/5.0

Here's a snapshot of the career of vocalist James Durbin to date. While his musical career began at an early age, his rise to fame began with American Idol, wherein he auditioned in 2009 but did not make the cut, only to return later in the tenth season. It was in that season, we learned of his love for classic hard rock and heavy metal. Durbin performed songs from Queen, Aerosmith, Sammy Hagar, Badfinger, among others. In the tenth season finale, he sang Livin' After Midnight and Breaking the Law with Judas Priest. I'm sure that was a dream come true. After his Idol experience, Durbin went on to release three solo albums to some modest success. More recently, Durbin was the lead vocalist for the iconic American band Quiet Riot with whom he recorded two albums. Now the singer returns with his fourth solo album, The Beast Awakens, currently signed to the Frontiers Music label.

James Durbin - Click For Larger Image

James Durbin

I barely recall Durbin's American Idol gig and have not heard any of his previous solo efforts. Yet The Beast Awakens reveals two things about James Durbin: his strong and versatile vocal talent and his ongoing appreciation for heavy metal rock. To the former, Durbin can reach various vocal registers and metal styles, sometimes within a singular song such as The Prince Of Metal. Or perhaps something more pitched to screamo as with Battle Cry or Rise To Valhalla. But that latter song is an example of Durbin's ability, to dial back to a voice more smooth and mellow in the last third. Durbin is also quite efficient at allowing his voice to lead and elevate the song melody as, by example, within Riders On The Wind or Calling Out For Midnight. But mostly, I would simply call Durbin's style assertive and persistent, with an intensity equal to his appreciation of heavy metal rock. The aforementioned songs offer some evidence. Calling Out For Midnight along with Evil Eye and The Beast Awakens offer faster heavy metal, yet infused with no little amount of rock rhythm and groove. Alternatively, Durbin can moderate the pacing with the more heavy and steady Into The Flames or The Sacred Mountain, which could easily pass for a DIO song (although Durbin doesn't attempt to sound like Ronnie James). Rise To Valhalla reminded me of an homage to European power metal. A final point to mention: across the album I could not help to notice the strong bass presence of veteran player Barry Sparks (Michael Schenker Group, UFO, Dokken, and Ted Nugent, amongst others). His bass line truly grounded the rhythm section into the heavy metal groove.

All in all, The Beast Awakens celebrates James Durbin's love for and appreciation of classic heavy metal rock, led by his strong and versatile vocal style. It's a win-win for all heavy metal fans. Easily recommended.




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The Bottom Line

The Beast Awakens celebrates James Durbin's love for and appreciation of classic heavy metal rock, led by his strong and versatile vocal style. It's a win-win for all heavy metal fans. Easily recommended.

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