Grimgotts – Tales Review

Score8/10
GenreSymphonic Power Metal
CountryEngland
Runtime20:04
Release Date1 May 2020
Record LabelIndependent

England’s best adventure metallers have returned from across the sea, bringing with them all the noble majesty of the dragons of old. The mighty Grimgotts have been hard at work to deliver a new EP, having released their sophomore album, Dragons of the Ages, just last year. Entitled Tales, it contains four imaginative tracks that, while sounding a bit more touched-up, stay true to the nautical/storybook/power metal combo of Grimgotts sound.

Like their previous works, each of Tales‘ four tracks rings with bombastic optimism, cheese, and keyboard insanity (ok, maybe not insanity, but they’re soooo fucking good). Additionally, the guitars, drums, and keyboards all keep things exciting, rarely settling into a single lick for too long, and frontman Andy Barton continues to lead the way with his deliberate mid-range pipes. One of the first differences I noticed about these songs, though, is the vocal layering in the choruses. On top of that, this album also comes off as more symphonic than Dragons of the Ages did, and the backing tracks sound more refined, but, hey, maybe that’s just me.

(Think THAT’s hot? You should hear their music!)

The most impressive aspect of Tales is its variety. The songs, all close to the five-minute mark, have multiple sections and a there’s good degree of dynamism, especially between songs. As far as specific songs go, it’s tough to pull favourites from such a short tracklist, but ‘The Dawnbringer’ slightly wins it for me. The keyboards are extra cheesy and the guitarwork is a notch above the other songs. But then, the solo section in ‘Fight ’til the End’ is pretty fucking sweet. Honestly, it doesn’t take much for me to be happy with an album; just throw in some flying synth solo cheese and a couple facemelters and we’re good. (Just kidding, it takes more than that (Except not really (?).).)

Anyway, if you were already a fan of Grimgotts, you’ll love Tales. Conversely, if you aren’t a fan of Grimgotts, maybe you should get your ass in gear and check them out, especially if you dig the likes of Atlas Pain, ShadowStrike, Freedom Call, or Power Quest. AND, if you REALLY like Grimgotts, you can look forward to two more EPs by the end of the year. Yeah. How’s THAT for modern music consumerism?

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Control the Storm – Forevermore Review

Score9.5/10
GenrePower Metal
CountryUnited Kingdom
Runtime54:41
Release Date25 July 2019
Record LabelIndependent

With the end of the month approaching, I found myself (as usual) skimming around for July albums I might have missed a few days ago. My search yielded generally good results, but, just as I was going over my picks for July’s Top Ten Albums, I chanced upon Forevermore, the sophomore album of the female-fronted British power metal outfit, Control the Storm.

And ho. Ly. Fuck. I hardly expected to find something this awesome with the end of the month so close, nevertheless something I had never even heard of before! Control the Storm displays an absolutely deadly amount of power metal skill, individuality, and vision. Between the gorgeous vocal harmonies of Firouzeh Razavi and the fuzzy synth lines that flood the background, my attention was torn from all places at once into a bunch of wonderful places.

Now, that isn’t to say I don’t have a couple issues with this album. And, as usual, I’m gonna get through those first, because I have so much praise for this record that you won’t even remember the bad stuff by the time you go check it out for yourself. My first issue comes in the form of disappointment in the album’s first minutes. ‘Darkest Fantasy’, the opener, begins with a fucking explosion of epic orchestrations, riding riffs, and destructive drumming that promise musical ascension, but all-too-quickly we’re greeted with the weakest melody on the entire album, rather than a kickass verse of glorious, shiny metal destiny. The song picks back up in the chorus, which is super strong, but it’s a shame that the verses are so forgettable. My second (and pretty much only other) issue is also with an uninspired melody, which arrives in verses of ‘Curse of the Voiceless’.

But that’s it. Aside from these, the melodies in Forevermore are absolutely killer. The deliberate vocals of Razavi manage to convey every emotion she shoots for, from aggression to longing, with relative ease and, as I mentioned before, the floating vocal harmonies add a really nice, almost neoclassical touch. The harmonies are especially cool in the Middle Eastern-tinged ‘New Era’, where they take on a more mystical air.

Following suit with the vocals is, honestly, everything else. Axeman Rich Shillitoe is a solo berserker, and Iliyan Vasilev beats the piss out of the drums in the best of ways. Additionally, the colourful orchestrations and keyboards, crafted by Raedon Mac, build immense atmospheres around the already-lively instrumentation without disrupting the band’s balance. And I suppose I can’t leave out the other driving force under the band, Paul O’Shea, who brings some juicy basslines, especially in ‘Hidden Wonder’, where he really shines. All of this raw energy is directed into massive, dynamic arrangements. Oh, and, the song intros are fantastic.

As far as favourites go for me, I have a few. ‘Follow Me’ is basically a cheesy 80s pump up tune, so, by the ultimate laws of the universe, I have to love it (but seriously. that fucking synthwork!). Then there’s the ballad ‘In the Night’, which begins with a beautiful piano/vocal feature before building into an awe-inducing climax. I also really like the closer, ‘Forevermore’. Aside from the cascading crescendo of the outro, it packs nearly as much variety in its thirteen minutes as the entire rest of the album, containing elements like folk, symphonic metal (think Amberian Dawn), and even a blurb of Tchaikovsky thrown in for good measure.

I’m sure I could go on about more favourites for another four paragraphs, but you get the idea. Forevermore is a sick work of metal, and Control the Storm have effortlessly thundered their way into being one of my favourite power metal bands. I’m excited to see what their debut was like, and I’m even more excited to see what they bust out next!

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Amulet – The Inevitable War Review

Score9.5/10
GenreTraditional Heavy Metal
CountryBritain
Runtime40:19
Release Date17 May 2019
Record LabelDissonance

If anybody tells you that heavy metal is dead, smack them in their god damn face and tell them to actually take a look at the scene. Not even counting the phenomenal albums we had earlier this year from the likes of Twisted Tower Dire, Stonecast, and Warrior Path (and so many others), this month alone is producing some of the best classic metal albums I’ve heard all year. And, taking its place at the top of this list is The Inevitable War: Amulet’s second album to date. This riff-heavy honcho simply demands headbanging from its rambling opening drum fills to the final soaring solo in the closer.

This is Amulet’s first album with their new lineup, and it was written with the intent to prove just how refined their metal is. It’d be an understatement to say that they deliver, because they fucking deliver. The mixing couldn’t be better, so we can hear every juicy bassline, but the whole thing is still mastered like a traditional album, which allows them to retain their raw edge while still keeping the band tight and coordinated. Each anthemic chorus hits with a similar impact as classic Manowar, and the galloping rhythm section chugs away with the likeness of Iron Maiden.

The entire lineup is excellent but the guitarwork stands slightly higher than the rest. There’s not a single riff that isn’t awesome (no, I can’t pick any favourites) and the solos are true old-school facemelters (I can pick a few favourites: ‘The Satanist’ and ‘Gateway to Hell’). Marek “Heathen” Steven and Nippy “Nip” Blackford immediately make it known that they’re worthy to fight among the mightiest of axemen as they ride upon the backs of their bodacious bandmates into battle.

Now, I bet you’re thinking that all these guys can do is play heavy. And don’t worry; so did I. But, you’ll quickly find that that’s a load of bullshit because the tasty acoustic interlude ‘La Noche de las Graviotas’ gives them a minute to say, “Hey, look, we can be gentle, too!” They also take it easier on the final epic, ‘Roundhead’, which puts a little less emphasis on impact and a little more emphasis on emotion.

Now, despite all of the praise I have for this album, there is one issue. There are a couple lazy melodies, like the ones in ‘Siege Machine’ and ‘Poison Chalice’. This a pretty minor shortcoming when everything else blasting from those songs is fucking sweet, but it’s a shortcoming nonetheless.

Yeah, some issue, right? As if every heavy metal band doesn’t reuse melodies. What a deal breaker. Fuck it. This album is near-perfect. Don’t miss it.

Amulet – Burning Hammer (Dissonance)

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