Without saying too much more Messenger’s In To Win IS A BEAST!!! One of the best releases for 2020!! Miss it at your own peril.

Messenger’s latest album In To Win is one of the best five albums of 2020.  High quality song writing, top notch production, fantastic musicianship is just some of the attributes that jump out immediately upon listening to the disc.

Honestly this album is light years ahead of their previous release 2012’s You Choose.  If I had known how good this album would be…

There was inkling when I heard the debut single earlier this year, Blind Sided.  A tremendous bit of heavy metal/hard rock fury, which harkened back to an Iron Maiden vibe without being a rip off. That song forced me to replay it some 3-4 times back to back. Infectious is an understatement. Lead guitarist Vladimir Gurin just BRINGS IT here, melodic but so much cranking energy that it just pumps you up!!

For the uninitiated, Messenger hail from Washington D.C. and play a traditional old school style heavy metal/hard rock.  Now some will just turn their nose up at that description but I’m telling you this album drives, cranks, rocks, kicks arse, FLAT OUT!!  The song writing this time out is a bit more direct and with the improved production, they’ve just captured lighting in a bottle this time out. Without falling into tropes and tired worn out cliché’s musically or lyrically Messenger delivers a monster album.

Album opener Time Machine sets the stage for the rest with its heavy opening riff and melodic chorus passages.  The layered guitars drive this track and bring some much energy, I think I’m gonna start head banging right now!!! BAM!!!  Album closer Fear No Evil is another pile driving track which plows along full tilt, but doesn’t forget its melodic underpinnings. Drummer Mike Zahorchak delivers the goods throughout, punchy tight and rhythmic.

Last Supper starts off with an acoustic guitar which leads you to think it might be a ballad and while one might call it one, I would argue it’s a more melodic yet moody musical passage. Lots of atmosphere with some dramatic effect, when singing of the last meal Jesus ate with his disciples how can one not?  Satan’s Nightmare offers up another great riff with some fantastic playing from Vladimir. Lyrically it might come across a bit trite but nonetheless effective.

There are so many solid songs here that to just break them all down I think would be a bit dull myself.  Seriously; Messenger at Arms, Take Flight, Anchor, and July 5 all scream of top shelf material.  Crows and the Hawk is another solid tune with very timely subject matter lyrically albeit a little clunky in the chorus, a tad too “sing songy” to these ears.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention the absolute BEST instrumental of 2020 – Trial and Triumph. It is not five minutes of guitar noodling but a melodic track which in a similar harkens back to the Scorpions “Coast to Coast.”  A great riff with melodic passages that will force you to listen again and again, just MIND BLOWING!  I admit enjoying instrumentals but this one is brilliant.  “Transylvania” is another comparison to structure as far as the journey this song takes you on.

Messenger’s captain, founder, (current) bass player, vocalist and leader Frank Clifton Herring delivers a fabulous performance throughout.  His baritone vocal cuts through smoothly with subtlety and force. However on this album Rich Sandoval handles all the bass duties with driving force solid playing.

The production is crisp and full with plenty of punch.  Every instrument has a place and isn’t obscured with too much layering. Listening in DT 770 headphones I get to hear everything perfectly without favoritism.

Oh and one more thing!!  Lyrically Messenger is bold but tries to not just rehash the “typical” Jesus per minute content many other bands have and continue to attempt. Adding a bit more depth and relevance to each song, it’s uplifting without being cheesy or tired.

Without saying too much more Messenger’s In To Win IS A BEAST!!!  One of the best releases for 2020!! Miss it at your own peril.

Messenger band photo

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