Ashen Reign - _Immortality_
(Independent, 2008)
by: Quentin Kalis (4.5 out of 10)
Usually the preserve of misanthropes indulging in self-imposed hermitage, this solo project defies convention in performing a variant of classic heavy metal, but cannot escape the pitfalls that frequently plague one man missions. Mr McDaniel's preferred weapon is the axe, one he wields with aplomb; yet the same cannot be said of his drumming, which is rudimentary at best and wholly inadequate on other occasions. He also handles the mixing, production and engineering, resulting in an album that sounds particularly shoddy, with hollow drums that would warm the cockles of the grimmest hearts, a thin guitar sound and non existent bass. Thankfully, he outsources the mastering, but the damage has been done.

The availability of resources is always an issue for independent albums, but there are quite hundreds of much-maligned "Myspace bands" with a better sound, and the comparatively professional CD booklet suggests that access to needed resources is not the real problem. In attempting to be a jack of all trades, Mr McDaniel has become master of none. If he stuck to guitars and vocals -- the latter could do with some improvement, but not nearly as much as the drums -- hired musicians, and allowed someone else to handle production duties, this would allow him to focus exclusively on his strengths and not draw attention to his weaknesses.


(article published 8/6/2008)

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