Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Grand Magus : "Sword Songs"
These guys used to be in Spiritual Beggars who last album i had a hard time getting through as it sounded just like the David Coverdale era Deep Purple . These guys are not far removed from that, but much more metal so easier to digest. I love Deep Purple, but when I want to listen to them not only do I prefer the Ian Gillan years , but I'll just put them on when I am in the mood and don't need a tribute band. I was expecting something more doom when I put this album on, but instead I'm getting something that is almost power metal. The guitar playing is pretty fucking ripping, so there is no question in regards to these guys ability. The verse riff almost reminds me of "Painkiller". The singer has a classic metal sound, but a leathery rasp to his blues bathed baritone.
The guitar harmonies to "Varangian", will make you pull out your battle vest and check to see if you have a Grand Magus patch on it, if you are not just into the more extreme forms of metal. Granted the flip side off this the fact they are not breaking any new ground. Lyrically they take a page from Manowar's book. They toughen up after the melodic intro to "Forged in Iron". The chant of viking metal in this song is plan silly as they are not actually viking metal despite the fact they are from Sweden. Whitesnake on steroids would be a more awkward chant. He doesn't have the same Robert Plant quality to his voice that Coverdale does, but this helps the band sound heavier. Some times the retreading of conventional metal works better than others, the 80's kick to the chorus of "Born For Battle" reminds me of "Smooth Up In Ya" by the Bullet Boys. It packs more of a punch, but I'm always cautious of inadvertent cock rock. They make this up to you on "Master of the Land" which is much heavier. The singer's voice brings Candlemass to mind here.
The more modern Judas Priest sound returns on "Last One to Fall" which in some ways has a more Rainbow feel to it. Sure a lot of bands are being referenced here as influences, some of these are more direct than others, but if you already caught this kind of metal back in the day then it mght not be as impressive. There is a little more heft to "Frost and Fire" but aside from that no new real ground is broken sonically. Lyrically they really want to be a viking metal band with songs called "Everyday There is a Battle to Fight". But they chug along to 80s mainstream metal. It is soulfully sung, but pretty middle of the road. They put more energy into this attack for songs like "In For the Kill" which is more hard rock than metal. It's not surprising that they do a good job with the cover of "Stormbringer". If you miss old school metal and want to hear it done without much embellishment, then these guys might do it for you. I'll give this a 7 as the guitar is well played.