Review Summary: Another collection of talent that leaves their talent at the door.
The power metal world never stops cannibalizing itself. From new generations of bands blatantly aping those that came before them to bands pulling members from other bands to form new ones, the genre is not one known for any degree of originality. Now, the trend in many metal circles is for members of established bands to pluck members from others sharing their home country, apparently believing that nationality has something to do with musical ability. The death metal world has seen this with the rise of bands like Holland's Hail Of Bullets, and now Finland gets their own version, Cain's Offering.
The heart of the band is former Sonata Arctica guitarist/songwriter Jani Liimatainen, who bring with him not only a wealth of experience, but Stratovarius frontman Timo Kotipelto. The two, no strangers to the scene, have assembled the band and put together this, their debut offering.
Like all good power metal albums, Gather the Faithful opens with all guns blazing, a speedy, double-bass driver burst of energy. The song, "My Queen Of Winter", shows what this collection of talent is capable of, in all senses of the phrase. The production is punchy and clear, letting the bass drums cut through the solid wall of guitars. The playing is all top notch, and Timo's voice is in the same fine form he exhibited on Stratovarius' recent album. The problem is that, even with two established songwriters in the band, there is very little songwriting being done here.
There are plenty of good ideas being utilized here, but the results are never what they should be. After the blank hookless opener, the album turns in an unexpected direction. Drawing a more modern influence than many similar bands, "More Than Friends" and "Stolen Waters" are both heavy slices of melodic metal, complete with roaring guitars thrashing out a furious rhythm. However, for all of the good instrumental bits that fill the album, and there are many of them, the lack of memorable vocals is a killer. Timo sounds great, but is given nothing of note to do. He (thankfully) doesn't stretch his range beyond comfort, but tosses in very few melodies that can be called true hooks.
The band stretches out on the two mini-epics, "Oceans Of Regret" and "Morpheus In A Masquerade", both fantastically crafted bits of prog metal. The instrumentation is careful, creative, and fully a step above anything else on the album. They are two songs that defy conventions and deliver something that gives this project worth. Unfortunately, they both come complete with lackluster melodies, giving the songs nothing beyond the instrumentation to keep the listener's attention.
Cain's Offering had the potential to be a band much better than they have turned out. What this trend towards supergroups has shown us is that talent alone does not make for a good album. A band of good players, coupled with a good singer, is not enough to carry an album if they fail to write songs. That is exactly what happened here, as an obviously capable band has put out an album far too comfortable to tread water. That doesn't make Cain's Offering bad, but it does make them unnecessary.