My Refuge – The Anger Is Never Over Review

Following a distinctly cheese-less 2021, I decided to cherry pick something smelly. A promo surfaced, bearing both the words “Italian” and “power.” Perfect. However, and disappointingly, a deeper dive into the one sheet showed that this is only four eighteenths of the story; although the founder and main man is indeed Italian, the core band comprises a Spaniard and a German, with a further 15 contributors from across the globe, covering Czech Republic, Turkey, Canada and Venezuela, among others. My Refuge and their second full-length release entitled The Anger Is Never Over takes international to the next level but is it good? Is it cheesy?

The guitars are as good a place to start as any with a metal record. The Anger’s are relatively hefty, packing the punch of heavy metal with the theatrics of power metal, falling somewhere close to the realm of US power metal. I hear Jag Panzer, Blind Guardian and touches of Helloween in the mix; it’s power metal but ultimately light on keyboards and cheese. This range of influences is partly attributable to the range of contributors in play here, with several different singers lending their vocals to proceedings. My Refuge are a strangely mixed bag, with some offering a strong tone and powerful vibratos, and others stretching their range and abilities to fit the power metal sound. Where the choruses don’t hit the mark this is often because the singers are unable to keep pace, such as on “The River and the Rain” and “The Last to Die.”

Equally, the more comfortable vocalists are where the record is at its best, such as on “War in Heaven,” “Memories” and “What If Tomorrow Never Came.” The last of these in particular is the best the record has to offer as it demonstrates more compositional ability than the remainder. A big solo opens the track before pushing into a surprisingly sedate, cool first verse. This develops with strong riffs in verse two, crescendos through its bridge and reaches a grand chorus with a solid hook and choral chants to beef out its sound. It’s the most thoughtfully arranged song and therefore the highlight.

Nonetheless, I wouldn’t want to overstate the comparisons to the bands of quality I referenced above. My Refuge are generally a bland amalgamation of their influences, offering little reason to listen to The Anger above those others. It’s a serviceable record, with serviceable riffs and serviceable hooks. But it’s far from outstanding and is disappointingly predictable. Its verse/bridge/chorus/solo/chorus structures can’t sustain an hour of engaging music, with the fragments of quality in its second half so swamped by mediocrity that it’s tough to reach them. This is compounded by the album’s pacing which offers a short and meritless interlude early on which does nothing to counteract its consistency, and the (surprisingly good) ballad hidden on the penultimate track, long after your brain will have switched off. Further, I query the purpose of a number of tracks here which simply act to dilute the quality housed elsewhere.

The drabness is wrapped by the production into an even more flat package. It isn’t totally brick-walled from a dynamics perspective but the lossy file format available to us and modern, boxy production doesn’t do The Anger any favors. No element pops out my speakers, even the vocals and guitars which sit atop the mix. And when other instrumentation is used to harmonize with the guitars or offer a new flavor, they sound muddy and buried. For example, the piano on “Memories” should cut through the noise with its purity, especially given it’s a ballad, but instead it’s fuzzy and poorly defined. I don’t think anyone could deny that My Refuge is trying to inject their recording with energy but the flat production does its best to drain this out again.

The sum position is a record which, despite its distinct influences and smorgasbord of contributors, lacks any sort of distinction itself. The only strong feeling I can muster is ambivalence, which hardly has the makings of a classic. The Anger isn’t terrible but it also isn’t the melodic, enthusiastic ball of fun I wanted it to be. I’ll have to find my gorgonzola elsewhere.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Pride and Joy Music
Releases Worldwide: April 23rd, 2021

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