Sneakily, but steadily Ancient Bards have grown on me from just another Rhapsody “cover” band – from Italy even – to a serious contender to be the legitimate successors to the genre-establishing warriors who are a bare shadow of their former glory these days, at least the contemporary of Fire incarnation with only one birthing member left. I don’t mean to run down symphonic power metal masterpieces like AB‘s first record, The Alliance Of The Kings, but the borrowing of Rhapsody style was a bit too blatant to lift the album and its sequels beyond the cliche of “just another (albeit great) power metal record”. Continue reading “Ancient Bards – Origine: The Black Crystal Sword Saga Part 2 Review”
Grailknights is a band that I disregarded for all 14 years of their existence, which is mostly due to their ridiculous image and outfits. And that’s not because I hate fun (my favorite genre is power metal, go figure) but because I detest forced images constraining bands’ musical style and development, exempli gratia Alestorm, their power metal counterpart Gloryhammer and recently German power metal outfit Victorius‘s demise into Gloryhammer platitudes. I just don’t expect these bands to deliver genuine music, and in the case of the ensembles given above this stereotyped thinking worked out for me. Alestorm are just a money-making factory centered around getting shit-faced and their music has been suffering of this since the second decade of the 2000s. Due to all those all show no substance bands, Knightfall is the first album of Germany’s Grailknights I consume. The band calls it superhero metal. Arrggghh, the nemesis. Continue reading “Grailknights – Knightfall Review”
How much more thrashy power metal can the world take? While this question might refer to The Crimson Throne, Germany’s Circle Of Silence‘s fifth album, it is the same question that went through my head when I listened to their label debut The Blackened Halo in 2011. As part of preparing this review, I went back (not in time though) and listened to The Blackened Halo again to see if it could convince me today more than it did back then, which was not at all. And by the God-Emperor, just as seven years ago, I still don’t feel in need of the umpteenth band mixing influences of bands like early Blind Guardian and Helloween, Rage, Accept, Exodus and Kreator because there are so many better alternatives available already. The Crimson Throne really needs to be some damn fine composing to shed a good light on Circle Of Silence in my book. Continue reading “Circle Of Silence – The Crimson Throne Review”
Well, German gothic metal vets Crematory surely haven’t covered themselves in glory with their – or rather drummer Markus Jüllich’s – flaming binge against modern music industry and their own fans. Reading the comments to their video for “Salvation”, a track off new album Oblivion, they seem to have either lost a lot of fans or drawn some haters with this. Probably both. Elaborate marketing scheme or honest loss of temper; either way it is a shame to sully the name of the band who delivered such classics as “Tears Of Time”.
It is also a shame as Oblivion is a pretty good album compared to Crematory‘s more recent efforts, although you certainly would not expect that listening to the first track of the album, the mentioned “Salvation”. Standard industrial rock with a slightly too pop chorus of this sort doesn’t pass for anything more than mediocre and the atrocious video does the rest. It’s a single, what to expect? Pass, next.
The first highlight awaits by the name of “Ghosts Of The Past”, a clear callback to Crematory‘s ’90s sound with its bittersweet piano lines and the Crematory-typical change of pitch mid-song. Paired with a catchy yet not tacky chorus, “Ghosts Of The Past” packs what the band has been missing lately, a genuine identity, and thus is one of the few stand-out tracks on Oblivion. While songs like the following “Until The Dawn”, “Revenge Is Mine”, or even title track “Oblivion” cling to memory pretty quickly, they are only average Crematory-gothic fare.
The other crescendo in Oblivion‘s musical quality is “Immortal”, a truly straight-forward industrial metal banger garnished with the most haunting chorus of the album. This is the track that turned my opinion on the album around after being admittedly prejudiced after Mr. Jüllich’s facebook rant. Sadly, real apices like “Immortal” are rare on Oblivion, even though most tracks at least deliver a catchy hook. Oblivion‘s low point is “Stay With Me”, probably the tackiest ballad ever produced by the band. However, I bet you there’s a target audience among Crematory fans for that as well. After all, with their mix of easy melodies and heavier tunes the Germans appeal to a wide swath.
Oblivion basically follows the footsteps of other recent Crematory outputs. Some great tracks, even though Oblivion‘s are greater than those of the other albums, but mostly run-of-the-mill gothic/industrial rock/metal pretty close to the mainstream. No big surprises to be expected from Crematory anymore seemingly, especially not in the future when the band will ultimately disband according to Mr. Jüllich because we all only use spotify.
I gotta admit, I am always sceptical when it comes to new releases in the classic heavy metal scene due to the flooding of the style. A few years back, the new wave of traditional heavy metal trend started with more and more bands going back to the roots of heavy metal, similar to the new wave of british heavy metal. While the latter was sucked dry to the last coin in collectors’ pockets, the NWOTHM is still going strong, even though it is lacking the quality of some of the great NWOBHM artists. Granted, this is all very stereotyped thinking, but the increase of young bands playing traditional metal is palpable. Take this year’s Visigoth release for example. A fine piece of classic steel by some really young musicians.
Looking at the band photo, Spanish headbangers Evil Hunter surely aren’t as young but follow in the same vein of playing traditional heavy metal without any modern affectations. Such devotion is certainly admirable and earns the band some sympathy points in my book. In contrast to groups like Visigoth, Evil Hunter don’t go quite as hard on the denim-and-leather Manowar appeal, neither musically nor visually, and in turn provide a tamer, more hard rock influenced album.
Opener “Surf The Waves” and title track “Evil Hunter” neatly showcase Evil Hunter‘s musical range – fast songs and mid-tempo songs. Both songs feature an extremely melodic chorus that contrasts the heavy riffing and aggressive vocals of lead singer Damián Chicano. Not aggressive in the sense of death metal or hardcore, but each of his lines delivers a good punch with his lower register squealing, guttural singing. Partly because of that, Evil Hunter‘s music reminds me of the Portuguese Attick Demons. Which is not a bad place to be.
With their first album, Evil Hunter ride through all possible influences of classic heavy metal. Their dual guitars lend a certain Iron Maiden vibe, “Hot Leather” is a Saxon carbon copy and “By Your Side” has you relive those ’80s “I Want To Know What Love Is” moments. That’s all pretty nice and well-calculated, some songs really grip you and make you want more, but ultimately most of the tracks are just average. Singer Damián Chicano’s voice stands out and makes this release better than its compositions. I enjoy the concise length of 35 minutes and 8 fast-paced tracks (except the ballad), but probably will not listen to this album a lot more. The tracks are too average and don’t kick hard enough for a heavy metal release except for one or two. The sound is good, the songwriting seems versed, but sadly not very varied.
Evil Hunter deliver a gem for scene afficionados who crave new old school music. The same is true for many albums released through Fighter Records by the way, so anyone looking for some underground treasures should check out their catalog. The spaniards likely won’t make a huge impact internationally but their effort is valiant and a promise of greater things to come. I could imagine someone enamored with the music style to enjoy it way more than I did.