The band released a demo in May 1990, then ventured off in different directions in 1992 as they each worked on other musical projects until reuniting in 2013. This year, on January 6, their debut album entitled Untold Stories: The Scriptures of Sadness was finally released. Despite the long break, they were able to easily pick up where they left off over twenty years ago.
The co-founding trio consists of Mark G. David (Bass, Keys, Guitars), Chuck Woodward (Guitars), and Paul “Warrior” Joseph (Guitars). Numerous drummers and lead vocalists have come and gone since 1988, so the guys decided to use session musicians in order to record the album. With more doors opening this time around, multi-instrumentalist Mark was happy to sit down and discuss Kyrie Ellison as well as offer up some insight on how the evolution of the music industry has affected them.
Mark names “classic bands like AC/DC, [Black] Sabbath and [Iron] Maiden. The prog-metallers like Fates Warning, Queensrÿche, Crimson Glory, and Savatage. We enjoyed the 80s thrash scene (Slayer, Exodus, Testament, Overkill, Megadeth…) Plus, we can’t leave out King Diamond, Mercyful Fate, and Yngwie J Malmsteen.” With such heavy influences it is no surprise that Kyrie Ellison produces a strong sound that embraces the essences of both progressive (prog) and power metal. A sound that has not wavered since the band was formed, despite their years of inactivity.
Mainstream music has gone through more than one metamorphosis since 1988. Many musicians and fans alike have made the claim that “grunge killed rock and roll”, while just as many others share the same sentiments as Mark: “Metal finds it easy to blame Grunge but I feel back in the early 90s metal was way over the top and hit a ceiling. The hair was too big, everyone was trying to playing faster than the next person, and if your band wasn’t pretty…you didn’t stand a marketing chance. Popular metal was pretty silly by '91/'92.”
The debate concerning the inevitable end to a monumental era of music will undoubtedly not end soon; however, one thing that is indisputable is the fact that prog bands were not affected by the dramatic shift from mainstream metal to grunge. Furthermore, bands such as Stratovarius, Fates Warning, Dream Theater, and Symphony X among others continued to release albums. “… Prog metal/power metal was always available,” explains Mark, “and the major labels never really had a chance to super-gloss it over, therefore it stayed honest and sincere.” Kyrie Ellison stands behind what they believe in and the rest, they feel, will follow. Staying true to themselves, they matured as musicians throughout the years resulting in a more refined version of their original music style.
With almost three decades of experience under their belts the band is more optimistic than ever. There is still a broad audience for prog/power metal and there are now recording and marketing resources available that did not exist when the band formed. “The music industry has taken a hit, no question” declares Mark, “You are in control of your own product and marketing. Record labels used to do that for their bands, now…do it yourself. What you put in is what you get out!” Countless bands have chosen not to sign with a label for this very reason.
Whether or not Kyrie Ellison will be picked up by a label remains to be seen. According to Mark, “Music downloading and YouTube has made music/recordings a FREE event. CDs are becoming obsolete. Folks would rather download for convenience. New bands are just looking to get heard so they offer music for free. Sites like Spotify make it easy and inexpensive (if not free) to acquire music. Bands are finding new and clever ways to reach or expand its fan base. Home studio results are passable if not superior in quality at times. So, less and less bands are paying big tabs at professional studios. Graphic design can be done on your home computer and YouTube has tutorials on all these topics for FREE. Here’s the breakdown: you can record at home, do your own graphics, promote on social media, and don’t need to print CDs. Plenty of jobs have been lost due to technology. Record labels did all of these 15-20 years ago. Now, we can eliminate the middle man.” When he puts it that way, it is safe to say these guys can do more for themselves on their own terms as opposed to having someone else try and conform them to big business terms.
What Kyrie Ellison would love to do now is go on tour. The band hasn't performed live in quite a few years, but can't wait to get back on stage. All they need is a good audience with a positive attitude toward metal. They opened up for some major acts in the past and would jump at the opportunity to do so again. Any of the metal music festivals in the U.S. and/or Europe would be their ideal gig. The guys relish the atmosphere of the enormous crowds and the camaraderie of all the bands performing. As for who they would prefer to tour with? That would be anybody who rocks! Visit http://www.kyrieellison.com for band news and updates, as well as links to purchase their debut album.
I needed to hear more from these guys and, as luck would have it, I didn't need to look far considering we all frequently congregated in the radio station's chat room. Upon receiving my CD, I knew this was going to be one of my favorite albums.
The CD's artwork grabbed my attention right away, as cover artist Tina Giovannone did an amazing job on the imagery of the old fortune teller by capturing her spirit without overdoing it. I also really like the tri-fold style of the album cover as opposed to the usual plastic CD case, and appreciate the lyrics as well. The album contains ten songs, including an instrumental (which I pretty much expected, considering the genre) and a killer intro. The intro is 35 seconds long, but is an outstanding “prequel” to the rest of the album. Laura Daniels, the voice of Kyrie Ellison, couldn't have sounded better if she tried.
Following the intro is “Unborn Soldier” (song 2). It begins and ends with a drumming style resembling one which is easily related to the military, with pure power metal in between. This track is full of emotion and intensity which I attribute to the fact that Chuck's brother, Lance, was the inspiration behind the song. “Dimension of Sorrow” (song 3) and “Lonely Memories” (song 4) are just as hard-hitting with perfectly timed tempo shifts, screaming guitar riffs and a strong bass line, with “Lonely Memories” containing a brief bass solo. Next up is the album's only instrumental. Song five, “The Bitter Taste of Tears”, is 3:18 of what I will refer to as an instrumental intermission. Somberly living up to its name, it exudes sorrow as the guitarists strum out the haunting tune with precision.
“Foreseen Destiny” (song 6) starts out as an extension of its predecessor with Mark D.'s bass being more prominent. Chad begins vocals around 30 seconds into the song, giving the illusion you have stumbled onto a really good ballad; however, at about 1:02 your thoughts are shattered completely as the tempo picks up and unleashes more kick ass power metal until the last 13 seconds of the song. “A Cold Night of Darkness” (song 7) would have to be my favorite track on the album. At 5:34 it is one of the longer songs and should come as no surprise I chose it as my favorite. There is a really good guitar solo and, despite the heaviness of the music, there is a positive message through the lyrics. The heaviness of the song is just an added bonus. “Land of the Stories Untold” (song 8), “Wisdom Child” (song 9), and “New World” (song 10) continue unveiling the scriptures of sadness with the same energy as the rest of the album with consistently strong guitar solos, bass lines, and drumming throughout.
Although it took them a couple of decades to produce a full length album, the band has successfully merged prog and power metal in their cryptic tale of UNTOLD STORIES: The Scriptures of Sadness. In my opinion Kyrie Ellison has released a downright epic masterpiece that will withstand the sands of time. It goes without saying the album is “Anna's iPod Approved”; furthermore, I highly recommend it to all music lovers regardless of what genre you prefer. Please visit http://www.kyrieellison.com to purchase the album and learn more about the band. No music collection will be complete without it; this album is a must-have.