Traditional metal from Canada
This particular demo has been making rounds in underground circles since its release in late May and with very good reason. The line up alone is enough to get excitement going. Traveler is the brainchild of Matt Ries (Hrom, Gatekrashör), the primary songwriter, who is accompanied by Jeane-Pierre Abboud (Gatekeeper, ex-Borrowed Time) on vocals and Chad Vallier on drums.
The demo kicks off right away with up-tempo, high energy, twin guitar melodies and keeps the pace throughout the entire sixteen minute affair. Unlike Ries’ previous projects Hrom and Gatekrashör, which are more deeply rooted in early German power metal and Canadian speed metal respectively, Traveler adopt a modernized NWOBHM style with hints of epic heavy metal. The lead guitars are at the absolute forefront with a seemingly non-stop stream of melodies and tasteful solos. Jeanne-Pierre slots into the puzzle like the missing piece. His vocals are strong and he does a wonderful job of not letting the riffs overpower him. His vocals were stellar with both Borrowed Time and Gatekeeper, but he’s stepped himself up even further here showing solid improvement in his delivery. Ries could not have picked a better vocalist to partner himself with.
The lead guitar and vocals are the shining stars of this release. The bass and drums do a good job of keeping everything together but don’t stick out as anything exceptional. I think that this type of approach works perfectly fine for the sound that Traveler are trying to achieve. The demo’s only noticeable flaw lies with its production. The production is thin for the sound that the band is trying to go for. With that said, that’s completely expected given this is the band’s first demo.
When we put all these pieces together, we have an incredibly strong first showing that is reminiscent of Borrowed Time’s faster moments. Ries and co. certainly have a very solid grasp on what traditional metal should sound like because not once does this release get boring. Every single riff, beat, and vocal melody are impactful and catchy as all hell. At the time of writing this, the demo has only been out for a couple of months and I’ve already spun it well over a dozen times. Each time I listen to this release a different song becomes my favorite one. I just can’t stop listening to these three tracks. Traveler have found a winning formula – this is the band to keep an eye out on.
Favorite Track: Behind the Iron
Album Rating: 93/100