Lords of the Trident – The Offering Review

I’ve said this in other reviews, but damn, it is really cool to see the US power metal scene thriving. Not that it matters much for someone like me, who lives in the middle of an un-tourable flyover state. Even so, it’s heartwarming to see people like me, who grew up asking “why doesn’t power metal have a scene in America?,” growing up to actually do something about it. The number of great USPM bands is so large now that it takes something special to stand out, and thus it took four LPs for Lords of the Trident to finally catch my attention in 2018 with Shadows From the Past. That record’s infectious trad/power metal energy proved memorable in the long term, but can these Wisconsin cheeseheads stand up to AMG’s standards of scrutiny with their newest Offering? The answer is – unlike Lord’s of the Trident’s music – complicated.

The Offering is the latest entry in the canon of power metal concept albums about strong guys doing quests and stuff. Much like the Lords of the Trident records which precede it, this is no-frills, mostly keyboard-less power metal in the vein of Dream Evil, and its appeal should be immediate to any fan of that style. While many of the songs this time around take on a dramatic aesthetic in service of the record’s concept, the most fun is had in its straightforward jams. The back-to-back combo of “Acolyte” and “Charlatan” might be the highlight of the record, while “Dance of Control”‘s pop-oriented approach yields one of the record’s best choruses. Highlights aside, the best thing to be said for The Offering is that, despite its hour length, there are no especially weak tracks. It feels too long, and if given editing rights I would probably snip off the last two tracks, but Lords of the Trident would be losing two legitimately good songs in the process.

If I don’t sound especially enthusiastic about any of this, it’s because… well, it’s because I’m not. I don’t have any specific criticisms of The Offering or of Lords of the Trident in general. This is an extremely talented band, and The Offering is a thoroughly enjoyable record. But it’s only just enjoyable. It handily clears the baseline of what makes for a good power metal record, but the riffs don’t get my blood pumping, and the hooks don’t make my heart soar. The initially grandiose “Champion” nearly gets there, but when the time comes for what should be a monumental chorus, said chorus goes through the motions without conviction. The Offering is fun, it’s pleasant to listen to, but it is not truly exciting to me in any sense.

I wonder if part of the blame for the way I feel about this record can be placed on the production, which, in keeping with the music, is polished and professional yet unremarkable. The chorus of “Power of Evil” may illustrate my point best; the refrain concludes with a layered scream of “To the power of evil!,” and what should be a powerful moment is executed and mixed completely flat. None of the blame can be placed on the performances, however, as Lords of the Trident is an exceptionally talented group. Vocalist Ty Christian remains the standout performer, responsible for the band’s unmistakable identity. His broad, dramatic delivery handily grants The Offering the emotional depth demanded by the record’s tragic concept.

I want to be perfectly clear: I really like The Offering. Good power metal is hard to come by, and this record delivers the goods in a way that I was always happy to return to. Yet in a year where Eternal Ascent and Planeswalker delivered better power metal albums than most of what 2021 could muster in January alone, The Offering feels more like a welcome diversion than mandatory listening. It’s clear that a lot of effort went into the conception and recording of this album, so I had expected it to set a new baseline for Lords of the Trident, but right now I don’t feel that it surpasses its predecessors. That opinion may change with time as I intend to return to it throughout the year, but as of right now my recommendation of The Offering is not as enthusiastic as I had hoped.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Self-Release
Websites: lordsofthetrident.com | lordsofthetrident.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/lordsofthetrident
Releases Worldwide: April 1st, 2022

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