On Titan Force‘s high quality debut from 1989 are present two songs of particular brilliance; ‘Master Of Disguise‘ and ‘Lord Of Desire‘ are relaxed in sound but under their deceptively simple exterior lies a natural and acute songwriting nous. Rare are the times in a genre of exuberant excess when so much is said with so little, but Titan Force accomplished this sleight of hand with organic grace and the power of suggestion. Built from the sparest of musical blocks, most tastefully employed, these two songs are united by lyrical themes of power dynamics and manipulation within relationships; unusual subjects for the true metal underground and done from a somewhat sexually ambiguous angle, but one which makes more sense when seen against the dreamlike, subconscious-evoking context of the music.
‘Lord Of Desire‘ is foremost in achieving this dream state; the song is based on an unconventional 7/8 (?) time signature, throughout accompanied by a higher-octave chug with an idiosyncratic string attack, and a conservative bassline slithering in its shadow. Small details, these, but the effect is of a restless sea at dusk, on which Harry Conklin’s wide-ranging voice casts its reflection like premature stars on a purple horizon. Here, he delivers quite possibly his single finest performance, rivaling John Arch in the way his voice sets itself up a separate instrument, seeping in and out from among the oddly syncopated crevices of the music.
‘Master Of Disguise‘ is far more straightforward, in regular time, and with liberal spaces between its big-chord punctuations, at times only supported by the low end. Like ‘Lord Of Desire‘, it follows a mostly verse-chorus-bridge pattern, but these otherwise-mainstream aspects have never proved a dissuasion to fans of this music, for the quality of melodic information it contains and for the vehemence of spirit entailed in it. To quote from these pages:
The beauty of so much traditional heavy metal lies in the simplicity of its chord progressions, a vast chunk of which are shared by bands across the genre. Utterly predictable to seasoned ears yet capable of being emphatic punctuation in knowing hands, they are the true emblems of the brotherhood shared by all who admire this form of music. Not leather nor denim or boots, it is this primitive cry hailing a heroism latent in our natures that resounds across countries and cultures.… are masters of this precious art, well versed with just the right turn of phrase at the right time; the kind that makes one strut on their way to taking a piss in a smoke-infested pub, standing in the toilet booth with a cigarette dangling by the lips, head bobbing furiously as the haze of alcohol washes over.