Metal Saint – Choose
Metal Saint, the stage name for writer and musician James Tunnell, has worked hard on his first full length album Things Foretold and the effort has born entertaining and thought-provoking fruit. The album’s first single “Choose” might be an indie effort, by strict definition, but there’s nothing lo-fi or cut rate about its production. He’s invested a great deal of time into making this track work and it certainly sounds like a complete musical piece rather than some hodgepodge of half finished ideas. The performance, likewise, shows off his utter mastery of manipulating an arrangement in such a way it draws listeners in from the first note and retains their attention throughout the entirety of the tune. It may be a song dealing with matters of spirituality, but there’s ample wisdom in these lines for anyone interested in looking more deeply into life and why we do the things we do. Metal Saint confronts the song’s themes head on with tremendous confidence and unflinching emotional bravery.
He is unabashed about his beliefs, but there’s never any sense of him trying to ram them down listener’s throats. The aforementioned unflinching honesty comes through in his black and white belief about one’s relationship with a Higher Power. You are either with him or against him, but Tunnell always stresses (or implies) that it still isn’t too late to change course and align yourself with His love. The message is delivered in the most serious terms imaginable, but Tunnell has placed the message within an epic musical vehicle that has high cinematic value. It’s as if his time on television and film sets has somehow enriched his songwriting prowess and allows him the rare chance of getting over a message like this within a framework that even the non-religious music fan will enjoy. His vocals stress the importance of the subject to him without ever lapsing into self-indulgence or outright histrionics. It’s never a purple or over wrought. It’s highly personal and brimming over with passion.
The musical mood matches that passion. The verses have a steadily simmering quality and are content to build over time rather than rushing listeners along to enjoy the ultimate effect. When the first climatic moment arrives, the guitar and drums alike practically bulldoze listeners with their power. It isn’t ever brash, undirected power. Instead, it sounds like Tunnell gathers the full force of his musical ideas, hones them to a white hot edge, and then unleashes it on listeners who have been waiting in increasingly nervous anticipation. The effect is quite impressive. It takes a truly unique talent to incorporate such an intensely personal and religiously connected message in a palpable vehicle that crosses all lines of concern. “Choose” may take its time, but when Metal Saint unloads on the audience, it leaves a deeper impact on the consciousness than what you might initially suspect.