The thing that becomes immediately relevant when discussing ‘Blackened Heart’, the debut EP from Melbourne’s Back To Eden is that this band only comprises two members! A phenomenal feat when you consider the sheer power this EP exudes from the moment-go. With the power and bravado of a band this size, you would be forgiven thinking it had more members than it does. With the one-two punch of frontman Aliz and guitarist/bassist/backing vocalist Edan, Back To Eden manages to weave a metallic web of rock and metal stylings that possesses an immediately accessible and wide appeal.
‘Blackened Heart’ opens with the song Temptation and the sound of a cassette being placed into a cassette deck. A killer riff courtesy of Edan soon rolls in as the drums blast away in key in the background. As Aliz’s vocals flow in with the smoothness of a river, his clear Dio influences come hard and fast, which is nothing but a strength in his favour. Capable of hitting incredible high and melodic notes, Aliz’s vocals pair wonderfully with the licks and riffs of Edan. Whilst Temptation is a fairly straight-forward heavy metal track in terms of its arrangement and structure, its simplicity is its strength; allowing for an awesome headbanger of a track that would fit perfectly in a live setting.
Followed by Twin Flame, the second track of the EP is a speed metal/hard rock marvel that serves as a testament to Back To Eden’s mission statement of providing a band that displays the best aspects of heavy metal and hard rock. Like Temptation before it, Twin Flame thunders on with more killer riffs that just make you want to rock out in the comfort of your bedroom, turning the area into your own little stage. Sometimes that’s all you need in your metal! Not to deter from the musicality of the band, however, Twin Flame also has one of the best melodic guitar solos this side of 2018.
Illusion opens, unexpectedly, not with a Judas Priest influence or a Metallica one, nor even a Dio one as you might expect. Instead, you are greeted by a riff that bears a remarkable similarity to that of Walk by Pantera. This actually awards more points to this EP, however! The willingness to experiment beyond the realms of traditional heavy metal and hard rock into the fields of groove metal works in the favour of ‘Blackened Heart’. Arrangement-wise, this is actually one of the best tracks of the EP too, allowing for some interesting vocal choices by Aliz designed to complement the grooves. That final 15-second breakdown kicks some serious ass, too.
The title track is the softest track of the album, a power ballad, and the longest track of the EP. It also, sadly, is probably the weakest track of the EP, grinding the energy of ‘Blackened Heart’ to a grinding halt. Perhaps on a full-length album, this track could have worked better, but for a five-track EP, its softer touch feels out of place. Albeit, Blackened Heart does demonstrate that Back To Eden possess a knack for writing in this style too, a feat that isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Where many bands fall too heavily into realms of cheese when writing ballads, although there are some elements of that in the lyrics used here, it doesn’t push it so far that it becomes obnoxious or irritable. As the longest track of the album, you can’t help but find listening through Blackened Heart that it drags on a bit too long. Despite a neat mid-section that brings some of the energy back up and a few bouts of undeniably engaging solo guitar work from Edan, you find yourself longing to return to the driving rhythms of the previous three songs.
As the final track of the EP, Devil In Disguise thankfully is a return to the powerful, fast, and moving energy of the first three tracks. As arguably the darkest track of the EP, Devil In Disguise moves with the pace and ferocity of classic-era Priest. There isn’t much more to say about this particular track that hasn’t already been noted down in the others, other than this was an excellent way to close the EP and leaves the door wide open to a bright future for Back To Eden.
Grab your copy of ‘Blackened Heart’ HERE!