We’ve had to wait a little longer for the fourth instalment of Sergeant Thunderhoof’s collection. Like so many others, they were gearing up for a big 2020 when the pandemic struck but now ‘This Sceptred Veil’ sees years worth of creative ideas finally unleashed, resulting in a cauldron of passion and inspiration, clocking in at over an hour. The Sceptred Veil comprises of nine progressive metal epics that generally unfold themselves in stages. They rally against superficially and compromise over cacophonous riffs and guitar theatrics.
Opener is lead single ‘You Stole The Words’ and coupled with ‘Devil’s Daughter’ whets the appetite for what’s ahead. Particularly when the second track’s remaining tension evaporates to break into a menacing stomp.
‘Absolute Blue’ packs an emotional punch. Rest assured, its tender melody still has grenade-like drums and riffage going off on the landscape around it.
On ‘Foreigner’ frontman, Dan Flitcroft, sings “I’m just a foreigner wherever I go” alongside a riff that circles you like a ravenous bird of prey in a scorching outback. The temperature doesn’t drop on the desert blues of ‘Woman Call’. At this stage, you can feel the walls starting to sweat.
‘Show Don’t Tell’ is an enjoyable knockabout that has the feel of a classic 80s rock anthem. This upfront rocker then gives way to the final chapter of the album. It’s a suite of songs that pay homage to the mythology of the bands homeland of Avalon and Avon.
Being tied down in lockdown brought Flitcroft and the band closer to their locality and its rich history. Like so many rock greats, the band offered forth their own myths to sit within their landscape. Sergeant Thunderhoof (or “the hoof”), the figure from which the band's name heralds, is described by the band as a “mythical, time-travelling figure which could inspire new ideas and themes”, like the Biblical or Arthurian legends already spoken of.
These songs capture a moment in time and a new philosophy born out of its unprecedented demands, alongside that of Flitcroft’s own personal journey into fatherhood. Focusing less on the political world and more on the humanistic consequences. For anyone who enjoys challenging metal music, This Sceptred Veil will undoubtedly offer rich and unrelenting reward.
Written by Matt Nicholson