Young blood is often needed to rejuvenate a genre and introduce new ideas to it, and even though Tungsten has old blood running in its veins, they are here to modernize power metal as we know it. The band’s core, Nick and Karl Johansson, are musicians new to the scene, but there’s a catch: their father is Anders Johansson of Hammerfall fame who undoubtedly fed Nick and Karl templar steel through their baby food. Together with Anders, the brothers formed Tungsten to deliver their vision of modern power metal.
The gentle reader might remember a similar endeavor also including Anders Johansson in 2011 and 2012, with his band Fullforce releasing two Hammerfall-inspired, but much more modern sounding power metal records. Even before knowing of the personell involved, the memory beckons – Tungsten take what classic Swedish bands started in the late ’90s and reforge the true, earthy heavy metal sound with contemporary songwriting including influences from genres as distant as metalcore and with almost electronic sound effects and a crystal clear production. Lo and behold, upon checking the credentials, Mike Andersson, Fullforce vocalist, is revealed as singer of the band.
At first sight, Andreas Marschall’s impressive artwork evokes a melodic power metal feeling of loftier feelings and sophisticated, filigree melodies akin to the Italian branch of European power metal, but the impression couldn’t be more wrong. No later than “We Will Rise”, the album’s opener, the listener is taken by surprise in light of the heavy, aggressive drumming which seems ready and willing to explode into a core-like breakdown; the cadenced, down tuned guitar riffs round out the sensation of absolute focus on blasting rhythm. In this sense, Tungsten leave behind their Hammerfall blood and follow in the footsteps of none other than Pain, legendary Peter Tätgren’s industrial style band. Marching drum beats drive forward a dark, yet lyrically hopeful atmosphere while a dominant keyboard boosts melody in contrast to the mostly straightforward, weighty riffs.
Tungsten really do add a much needed breath of fresh air to a stale power metal genre, with impacts from musical styles all over metal they twist around fundamental conceptions of songwriting in melodic metal, and while most songs follow a rather classic structure and setup, surprises in the form of unexpected and maverick compositions spice up the record. We Will Rise is by far one of the most interesting records released in heavy metal in 2019 thanks to an actual new twist on the genre and a right out of the gate defining, individual and distinct sound.