(All Album Reviews by jlneudorf)
Novus Rex are a father and son project and Plowshares Into Swords is their first album. J.R. Fernandez provides keyboards, Roland V, drums, electric and acoustic guitars and vocals while A.I. Fernandez plays electric guitars, 6 and 12 string acoustic guitars, bass and vocals. Anthony Davis provides vocals on tracks 1,4 and 5 but unfortunately has since passed away.
This is keyboard heavy progressive rock with elements of classical and jazz. The musicianship is very good, especially the keyboard work although there are some nice guitar moments as well. The keyboards come at the listener in waves and Fernandez gets a lot of sounds out of his instruments. The organ playing is exceptional throughout. Although this album is far removed from metal there is an intensity here; the music is allowed to build and the layered keyboard sound can be quite dense and is usually up front in the mix.
There is a theme to go along with the music as Plowshares Into Swords is a concept album that seems to be about Biblical prophecies and how they have come to fruition in our modern world. It is not overly preachy so don’t be too concerned if you do not like religious based themes injected into your music.
Musically speaking, “Look! It’s Coming” is one of the album’s best songs. This is one of the more spacier offerings as the synths swirl about and the layered keyboard sounds are fantastic. It reminded me a little of Vangelis. My only gripe are the vocals. They are not bad per se but are recorded to low in the mix and they sound a bit tinny. The band really shines on the instrumental sections as they do not seem to be constricted by the words in the song.
Another good song is “Truth Seeker” where galloping guitar riffs, acoustic strumming and fine electric lead work come together seamlessly, although the vocals did not blow me away.
There are two instrumentals on the album, “Belteshazzar’s Dream” and “Locust Swarm”. Both are excellent with the former a keyboard laden number heavy on the dramatics and the latter featuring acoustic guitar and spacey synths.
The title track is another strong piece with excellent organ sounds and a jazzy melody , although the vocals are a little buried in the mix.
This is quite a good album overall and I thing Novus Rex has the potential to produce something really great. With a little work in the vocal department there is no telling how far they will be able to go. I for one am looking forward to their next release.