Metal Saint – Choose
The first single from James Tunnell’s, aka Metal Saint, first album “Choose” provides listeners an excellent introduction to his talents and can be enjoyed by a wide audience regardless of their religious beliefs or lack thereof. It’s a nuanced piece of metal not entirely reliant on bluster and volume to make an impact on the listener; instead, Tunnell shows a sure hand for manipulating dynamics in such a way it makes a dramatic impression on the listener. It’s the product of a long apprenticeship for Tunnell beginning with his first electric guitar at age thirteen and, as the saying goes, he hasn’t looked back since. It’s a voyage with its own array of influences, some of whom are strongly felt during this performance, and a life’s experiences that have tested his faith without finding it wanting. Tunnell, furthermore, is a bit of a Renaissance man in a world not particularly renowned for such diverse talents. His time as an actor and head of his own production company has enhanced the cinematic aspects of his writing and “Choose” shows off traits certain to get under the skin of its listeners.
Tunnell’s vocals put a definite spin on this track. He has the slow, seething quality of a preacher on some mount, urging the surrounding crowd to embrace God before its too late. The mood of the vocal dovetails nicely with his the musical mood and Tunnell clearly follows the arrangement when structuring his singing performance. His phrasing has a slow, deliberate quality that milks every line for its dramatic worth. He never attempts to overshadow the musical arrangement and melds his voice, as mentioned before, around the individual lines of the performance rather than attempting to sing against the instrument. The lyrics are naturally delivered from a Biblical point of view, but it isn’t so far removed from the experience of every day listeners that it seems remote. Instead, you can substitute the Biblical references in this song for any number of life-changing powers and elements and find the song achieves similar effects.
The musical backing is theatrical without being pretentious and features an outstanding melody filling most of the track. The clean, clear lead guitar guiding the song through its quiet sections weaves a delicate spell in many respects, but there’s a curious strength coming off those lines that gets in a listener’s ear and stays there. The drumming provides an excellent counterpoint for Tunnell’s guitar and builds in response to what it does in just the right way. Tunnell never sounds anything less than in full command of the song’s strengths and exploits them with a sure, steady hand. “Choose” will leave a lasting impression on anyone who hears it and, even if you aren’t a believer, will capture your attention thanks to its unique combination of finesse and raw power. Metal Saint’s album Things Foretold, based on this track alone, promises to be an invigorating and challenging listen.