Thrilling descent into the gloom where British metal heroes hide.
Is the issue of Al Atkins and Paul May’s selected works a sign of the end or it’s just a closure of their first trilogy? Hopefully, there’ll be more from the two whose collaboration effectively proves how wrongly labeled they are – the former as an ex-JUDAS PRIEST vocalist and the latter as a Christian axeman – because, together, the duo bask in a different kind of glory. Refining, rather than reinventing, a metal formula, May and Atkins come up with a series of epics, where the moral agenda gets shrouded in memorable melodies, and never shy away from the play of light and shade. So there’s no black and white in the title track of 2012’s "Valley Of Shadows" and “Here Comes The Rain” that mold pounding riffs out of acoustic wire and roar out of wheeze, while “Bitter Waters” wears an electric veneer only to heighten the drama of its folk core.
“Theatre Of Fools” lays out its Shakespearean tragedy onto a tempo-shifting ground to send a shiver and a shake down one’s spine, yet there’s also no shredding and no growl – only old-school sincerity and anger – on the speedy likes of “Enslaved To Love” off 2011’s "Serpent's Kiss" and “A World At War” with its thick instrumental interplay. It recedes for “Whisper To The Wind” from 2014 to seek the shards of vibrant emotions in the dark, gain heft and levitate again. And that’s where the unexpected new cut comes into play: a heavy reading of “In The Air Tonight” which sharpens the pain of Phil Collins’ original and feeds it with a dose of doom, showing how much more there is in Atkins and May’s creative union. Waiting for another chapter, then.