‘Never A Good Day To Die’ is the third studio album from British Heavy Metal band, Absolva. Encompassing a clear-cut combination of Thrash meets Power Metal, the new album shows a progression from their previous releases, most likely as a result of the experience each band member has drawn from their time on the road. Absolva consists of Chris Appleton – lead vocals/lead guitar/acoustic guitar, Martin McNee – drums, and Karl Schramm – bass, backing vocals, with Iced Earth bassist Luke Appleton – rhythm guitar/harmony lead guitar/acoustic guitar/backing vocals, guesting on the latest album.
For a band this early in their career, it’s remarkable how far they’ve come. Before forming Absolva, Chris, Luke and Martin were the faces of successful metal trio Fury UK. In 2012, Luke joined American metallers Iced Earth, encouraging Chris and Martin to form Absolva, and going on to release two debut albums and a live DVD and CD. After three years finding their balance, I feel like Absolva are really starting to get somewhere with this latest release. Whilst on past albums, I would have commented on the vocal constraint in the tracks, I would say there’s considerable improvement which can be heard throughout the latest addition to their discography. Stand-out tracks for me include ‘How Black Is My Heart’, which I would say gives each member their own opportunity to shine through and express their technical abilities, ‘Warrior Soldier’, containing an insane guitar shred from Luke which ultimately makes the album for me, and ‘Never A Good Day To Die’, which is more than deserving of the title track.
The consistent main feature that pulls it all back is the insanely awesome guitar riffs and harmonies from both Chris and Luke. A few songs on the album do follow a relatively repetitive structure, and at times lack any build. It sometimes appears to come across as though they’re trying to play it safe, rather than push the boundaries of their technical abilities. Each song holds it’s strength as a result of being formulated for a 4-piece line-up. It’s a shame Luke will be returning to Iced Earth in the new year, but hopefully it gives Absolva something to consider for the future. Although rough around the edges, I feel Absolva have successfully found their sound, which is more than likely as a result of their extensive combined experience alongside the likes of Saxon, Iced Earth and Blaze Bayley. Absolva still have six UK dates remaining on their October/November Tour before Chris, Martin and Karl return to touring as Blaze Bayley’s backing band for an extensive European Tour in the first half of 2016, and Luke returns to Iced Earth after their recent hiatus. For those of you who want to catch the band in their current line up, this may be your last opportunity! Overall, ‘Never A Good Day To Die’ is a great fusion of Heavy Metal to follow on from their previous two releases, which combines the mid-range sounds of Metallica with the domineering power metal of Iron Maiden.