Magic Kingdom – MetAlmighty Review

GenrePower Metal
Release Date22 November 2019
Record LabelAFM

As a rule of thumb, I never make any early judgments about an album until I’m at least two songs in (well, three if we’re counting the typical two-minute-orchestration first track that pollutes power metal). It gives me a chance to get away from any sort of propulsion the band hoped to gain with the first song and into what is usually a more accurate representation of the album as a whole. In the case of Magic Kingdom’s MetAlmighty, this proved to be a good precaution on my part, because, if I took that first track too seriously, I would have lost all interest. It has a strong intro, as well as a few worthwhile moments, but in the grand scheme of the album, it’s disorganized and the chorus is weak.

But, get passed ‘Unleash the Dragon’ and the real dragon appears! Sick riffs, headbangable beats, powerful melodies, and absolutely insane solos await you in a fiery keep. Your journey is led by the famed Michael Vescera (Obsession, ex-Yngwie J. Malmsteen), who is lending his vocals to Magic Kingdom for the first time. Also joining you on this epic quest for mighty metal are axeman/band founder Dushan Petrossi, bassist Vassili Moltchanov (both of Iron Mask), and Ark Ascent drummer Michael Brush. Together, they unleash eleven dynamic tracks that are sure to satiate even the pickier power metalhead.

Now, before we get to the rest of the good stuff, let’s finish off the not-so-good. As I mentioned before, the album starts at a low point. Unfortunately, MetAlmighty finishes on a similar note in ‘King Without a Crown’. It’s a decent track and I especially love the chorus, but it’s an underwhelming farewell to an otherwise hard-hitting album. Additionally, the production quality is. . . iffy at times, but it’s not an issue too often.

Other than that, though, this album kicks all sorts of fantasy ass. It rides forth with cheesy lyrics in a wide variety of dynamic tracks. The overall sound is grittier than a lot of modern power metal, which helps separate Magic Kingdom from the crowd (despite having one of the most unoriginal names in metal history). MetAlmighty may not be the best that Magic Kingdom’s ever put out, but it’s certainly worth giving a spin.

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Cathubodua – Continuum Review

GenreSymphonic Metal
Release Date25 October 2019
Record LabelMassacre

The time has come for Belgium’s female-fronted symphonic metal outfit Cathubodua to unleash their devastating debut album: Continuum. Featuring folk, symphonic, death, and power metal elements, Continuum wastes no time in displaying its melodic, balls-to-the-wall epic onslaught. After a short instrumental, we’re welcomed with an intense trifecta in ‘Abyss’, ‘Hero of Ages’, and ‘Hydra’ which start the album at its highest point.

It’s hard to pinpoint where Cathubodua’s sound lies because it’s so dynamic and fairly unique, too. At times they show some likeness to Elvenking, and it isn’t a huge similarity, but that’s really the closest comparison I can come up with. Not like any of that concerns me anyway because the sound is sick, the lead is sick, the drums are sick (see: ‘A Treacherous Maze’ and ‘Hero of Ages’), and everything else is, you guessed it, super cool. Numerous interlude tracks act as good transitional pieces, so the album also has a fair amount of fluidity going for it.

One thing (albeit a small thing) that gives Cathubodua an edge on a lot of other symphonic acts is that the operatic vocals are used pretty sparingly as a highlight rather than as the main vocal style. Like rough vocals, I think this more limited approach to operatics works way better than having them at the forefront all the time. It allows for more varied expression and really allows Sara Vanderheyden to attack with every vocal delivery she has, be it aggressive, tranquil, folky, operatic, powerful, or otherwise.

As with most albums, Continuum does have some things keeping it from being perfect. There’s a bit of excess that could be trimmed, namely the track ‘Deified’, which is pretty messy and a huge drop in quality compared to the rest of the album. And then there’s the way in which Cathubodua finish the album, which is with another instrumental. The second-to-last track, ‘Apotheosis’, would have ended the album perfectly, but the ending we get does the same thing ‘Apotheosis’ did but with a quarter of the impact.

But, as I may have hinted at, Continuum has a lion’s share of excellent tracks. My favourite, ‘Hydra’ has one of Vanderheyden‘s best performances on the album, showcasing both her ferocity and beauty, and the overall power from this track is great. There’re also some instrumental breaks that hearken to Elvenking’s ‘King of the Elves’ that are a nice touch. And then there’s ‘A Treacherous Maze’, which has an Eastern flavour, rough vocals, fucking crazy blast beats, killer instrumentals, and so much more going for it. Finally, while ‘Hydra’ is my favourite song, my favourite moment in the whole album is found in ‘Apotheosis’, where the melody from ‘Hero of Ages’ comes back to give you the ultimate, spinetingling goose-bumps experience.

I haven’t even touched on the great riffs or shredding solos, but hear me when I say that Continuum contains some of the best symphonic metal of the entire year. While it’s not without a few flaws, it’s a beast of a debut album (and an album in general). It’d be an understatement to say that I’m excited to see what Cathubodua come up with next, because this immensely talented group have limitless potential.

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Power Metal: Magic Kingdom Reveal New Single

Belgian power metallers Magic Kingdom are son to release their first album in five years. MetAlmighty will be the band’s fifth album, as well as the first album to feature Michael Vescera on vocals.

‘Fear My Fury’ is the second single to be released for the new album, which is due on 22 November through AFM Records.

Go follow Magic Kingdom on Facebook!

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