Grimgotts – Tales Review

GenreSymphonic Power Metal
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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Dexter Ward – III Review

GenreHeavy Metal (Traditional)
Release Date13 March 2020
Record LabelNo Remorse

Greek heavy metal force Dexter Ward have returned after four years with a third album of classic anthems and colossal riffage. This epic, gritty onslaught of medieval glory easily stands among the mightiest of axe-wielding metal knights. Within are eight tracks forged of metal worship and mighty tales.

Overall, III treads closely to the root Dexter Ward sound, kind of a combination of bands like Visigoth and Iron Maiden, with a touch of Running Wild. Along the same lines, the sound stays true to classic metal through the use of memorable riffs and a fair deal of facemelting. The vocals, while nothing to scoff at, are more dialed down than the usual belting of modern metal bands, instead taking a more Manowar (or to a lesser extent, Dio) approach to things.

For me, the highlight of III is the guitarwork. I could go into detail or pick songs (maybe ‘The Dragon of the Mist’ is on the upper end?) but I’d just end up saying the same shit over and over so I’ll just leave it and say the guitars are fucking killer, inside and out. The classic-inspired anthems of the choruses also take a stand as a high point, and the drums are far busier than in your usual classic metal band.

But, the real reason III kicks so much ass is its variety. The songs are all dynamic, with sick solo sections in some and chugging grooves in others. Fitting in with the whole sword-and-sorcery theme, a lot of the album is based around up-tempo gallops and 6/8, but there’s a good mix of musical feels, so playing the record front to back is no problem.

Fans of Greek power metal and classics like Iron Maiden and the aforementioned bands should definitely give III a spin (and the rest of Dexter Ward’s stuff). It’s one of the stronger albums in the genre I’ve heard in the past months, and I’m finding it hard to get sick of.

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Power Metal – Silver Talon Announce Debut Album For Fall

Heavy metal warriors Silver Talon took the torch in 2017 from the remnants of the traditional metal band Spellcaster. Their brand of metal is a classic-minded blend of speed, power, thrash and progressive metal, and is more over-the-top than its precursor.

The band have confirmed the title for their upcoming full-length album as Decadence and Decay, which is set for release this Fall.

Guitarist Bryce VanHoosen on the upcoming album:

The songs are more complicated, more progressive, more aggressive, and there’s more guitar solos and crazier vocal harmonies [than Spellcaster].

Silver Talon released an EP, Becoming a Demon, in 2018. It was highly acclaimed by critics, landing them shows with the likes of Evergrey, Warbringer, Enforcer, Exmortus, Unleash The Archers, Striker, The Absence, Powerglove, Savage Master, Vital Remains and Hatchet.

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Dynazty – The Dark Delight Review

GenreMelodic Metal
Release Date3 April 2020
Record LabelAFM

Where a lot of bands would suffer severe burnout after releasing a new album every two years for more than a decade, Dynazty are sounding fresher than ever in their seventh record, The Dark Delight. Full of electronic elements and powerful melodies, there’s far more between the lines than just modern flare. The Swedish melodic metallers have struck gold with an album that bursts with commercial accessibility and badass heavy metal in equal measure.

The uniqueness this album contains is surprising, considering frontman Nils Molin has also been busy as the new male vocalist of the Swedish pop metal group Amaranthe. Despite a similar core sound (colossal drums and guitars, bouncy synth melodies), The Dark Delight retains its individuality, even when compared to Dynazty’s own previous stuff.

Most of the tracks have identical styles, staying heavy and darker for the verses then lightening up a bit on the chorus. Although, Dynazty do an excellent job at keeping every song sounding unique while working around this idea. The melodies are strong and catchy and the beats carry serious headbangability, so it’s easy to see why The Dark Delight holds its own with other modern metal bands like Amaranthe, Delain, or The Dark Element.

The highlight for me isn’t the catchiness, or the electronic elements, or the massive guitars, or the colourful drumming. No, for me, the highlight is undoubtedly the soloing. Seriously. These guys lay down some serious shreds.

Even if you aren’t a fan of this style, The Dark Delight is commendable enough to warrant a listen. It’s not often a poppy metal album is full of so much detail, so if killer vocals, guitars, and drums aren’t good enough for you, maybe they will be.

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Dark Forest – Oak, Ash, & Thorn Review

GenreEpic Heavy Metal
Release Date24 April 2020
Record LabelCruz del Sur

Oak, Ash, & Thorn is the fifth offering of medieval power metal from England’s Dark Forest. These veteran warriors have lost none of their lustre with time and, even though they’ve been around nearly twenty years, this is one of their best albums to date.

As far as the overall sound goes, you can expect epic metal with aspects of Skyclad, Iron Maiden, and a tiny bit of classic Rhapsody thrown in. The mixing is a bit more lo-fi, which is perfect for creating that nostalgic, traditional feel. On a sidenote, Oak, Ash, & Thorn plays like the opposite of albums from Grendel’s Syster; where Grendel’s Syster plays a slow, steady, doomy epic metal, Dark Forest drives on with a questing spirit that’s worthy of any power metal band.

Needless to say, this album is killer. I can’t even pick favourite songs, because each one offers something completely different. Whether it’s in the gallop of ‘The Midnight Folk’, the dynamism of the eleven-minute title track, or the bombast of the instrumental finisher, ‘Heart of the Rose’, the vocals are strong, the drums are expressive, and the guitarwork is incredible.

Oak, Ash, & Thorn is excellent from start to finish. There’re plenty of highs, lows, and details (be it fills, countermelodies, or harmonies) so you can expect to get a hell of a lot out of it with consecutive listens. Showing nothing but endless variety and skill, Dark Forest continue to prove they’re worthy of knighthood.

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Power Metal: Alestorm Set Sail For ‘Treasure Chest Party Quest’

With the most hip-hop video I’ve ever seen from a metal band, power pirates Alestorm have dropped a new single!

‘Treasure Chest Party Quest’ is the first glimpse of the band’s upcoming album, Curse of the Crystal Coconut, which is set to be released on 29 May under Napalm Records.

1. Treasure Chest Party Quest
2. Fannybaws
3. Chomp Chomp
4. Tortuga
5. Zombies Ate My Pirate Ship
6. Call of the Waves
7. Pirate’s Scorn
8. Shit Boat (No Fans)
9. Pirate Metal Drinking Crew
10. Wooden Leg Part 2 (The Woodening)
11. Henry Martin

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Power Metal: New Music Video From Dyscordia

Belgian progressive powerhouse Dyscordia has released a new music video for their song, ‘This House” which is from their album Delete / Rewrite, which came out in January.

Piet Overstijns on the video: “Not only should you stay in the house, you should stay in ‘This House’!!!”  

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Heavy Metal: Grave Digger Announce ‘Fields Of Blood’

After 40 years of ferocity, German heavy metal pioneers Grave Digger are soon to unleash their twentieth album.

Fields of Blood is the third and final installment of the band’s epic Highland story through Scottish history and promises driving riffs and epic choruses of traditional heavy metal.

Frontman Chris Boltendahl on the album:
“We did it again and put on the kilts… as we always have been fascinated by Scotland and its history. For a long time, we considered when the right time would be to return to the Highlands and delve into their legends and myths. Our 40th band anniversary seems to be the right occasion for this and so we take you on a trip for the third time… put on the kilts and pull out your swords and axes, follows us to Stirling and Culloden and experience Scottish history, up close, authentic and emotional. As William Wallace / Braveheart said: Yes, they may take our lives. But they never take away our freedom!”

01. The Clansman’s Journey
02. All for the Kingdom
03. Lions of the Sea
04. Freedom
05. The Heart of Scotland
06. Thousand Tears
07. Union of the Crown
08. My Final Fight
09. Gathering of the Clans
10. Barbarian
11. Fields of Blood
12. Requiem for the Fallen

Fields of Blood will be released on 29 May via Napalm Records. Keep your eyes open for the upcoming singles!

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Winter Haven – Lanre Review

GenrePower Metal
Release Date21 February 2020
Record LabelIndependent

Current and former members of the power metal bands Azeroth, Anna Fiori, and Aceria (fuck, that’s a lot of A’s) have returned after eight years to deliver the sophomore work of Winter Haven: Lanre. This anthemic, genre-bending beast holds nothing back as it attacks with a dangerously cold bite.

The mix of influences in Lanre is interesting in and of itself. The foundation is more-or-less power metal, but alt/metalcore elements run rampant in the form of mixed vocals, heavy breakdowns, and just the general tone of the vocals in general, which are pretty far from soaring, bellowing, rough, or powerful (you know, the usual traits of power metal vocalists). The lyrical content also aligns a lot more with metalcore, which doesn’t matter so much, but the overtones that come along with these themes makes it worth mentioning. There are also death and black metal elements at play, plus some electro stuff, but to a lesser extent.

‘Sunlight Dethroned’ is probably the most typically-power metal track on the album. It’s got cheesy harpsichords and strings, it’s a driving 6/8, and it’s a bit more uplifting that the rest of Lanre‘s tracklist. Unsurprisingly, this is one of my favourite tracks (I’m fucking biased. Who knew?!), but the darker ‘The Sleeper’ is a killer tune, too. I also love ‘When They Come’, which is also pretty mixed in its influences. The low point of the album is the acoustic ballad, ‘Endless’, which is overall pretty wonky, but the rest of the tracks are solid.

If I were in middle school, I would have eaten this fucking album alive. It’s energetic and edgy with great guitars, which is pretty much all I cared about back then. That isn’t to trash Winter Haven, though, because they’ve done a damn fine job here. Lanre is a really cool album and is well worth the listen for fans of fast-paced, aggressive, and slightly angsty metal (I forgot to mention, too, there are some serious Frozen Crown vibes).

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Victorius – Space Ninjas From Hell Review

GenrePower Metal
Release Date17 January 2020
Record LabelNapalm

Everyone’s favourite DragonForce that isn’t DragonForce is back once more! Following the ridicularity (is that a word?) that was 2018’s Dinosaur Warfare – Legend of the Power Saurus, Victorius continue with their parody approach to shining power metal in Space Ninjas from Hell. Some will be quick to disregard the album as a Gloryhammer ripoff, but that isn’t really fair. Just because Gloryhammer are the best at being nonsensical doesn’t mean other bands can’t try!

For me, Space Ninjas from Hell doesn’t hold a flame to, say, Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards. I don’t hate this album by any stretch, but, ultimately, it’s lyrically underwhelming. It should go without saying, but the thing about parody music, and especially power metal, is that lyrics are very important (well, kind of the most important). The genre demands that the cheese be dialed up to a fucking million, shamelessly holding nothing back. It’s such an easy genre to turn ridiculous, because it’s more-or-less already there. All you have to do is come up with some loosely clever lyrics and create fun melodies and, boom, you’re in. What Victorius have done here, though (and Dinosaur Warfare suffered from this, too) is try too hard to be random in some instances. There are definitely some excellent moments, as well as a lot of the song titles, but a good portion of the songs seem forced. Additionally, the melodies get old really quick, and they haven’t really changed at all in the band’s history, which doesn’t help when your music relies on a charismatic vocal delivery.

All this being said, the metal aspects are stronger than Victorius have ever been. There’s a good variety of dynamic tracks, solid riffage, and the solos are great. Plus, the whole Japanese theme works perfectly with the Victorius sound, too. As far as tracks go, my favourites include the entirety of ‘Cosmic Space Commando Base’ (which is also my favourite song title) and parts of ‘Evil Wizard Wushu Master’, but the guitars are on point for the whole fucking album. Oh, and that cheesy synthwork in ‘Shuriken Showdown’ really works for me, too.

All in all, this album is enjoyable. Dedicated Victorius fans will adore this album, and cheeselovers such as myself will get something out of a few spins. If Victorius do decide to continue down this path of humour, their success will rely on a little less effort and a little more melodism.

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