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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Black Sun Tales – A Wanderer’s Stories Review

Release date22 Dec 2018
Record LabelNone

Canadian prog/power outfit Black Sun Tales has released their debut album, A Wanderer’s Stories (22 December, 2018). Featuring only seven songs, including the instrumental prelude (which, by the way, is one of very few I’ve heard that aren’t just a waste of album space), it makes for a listen shorter than thirty five minutes. A Wanderer’s Stories assembles elements of power, folk, and progressive metal, which adds a high level of diversity to the album.

The sound is similar to later Falconer, what with the clean vocals of Wolf Biller and folk sound that is especially prominent in the final tracks, ‘Blade of Destruction’ and ‘Living Pages’. There are a lot of harpsichord and string components, which are very in-your-face at times.

The lyrical content is fantasy-centric but it manages to stay clear of genre clichés or ridiculous tales about the power of believing in yourself (à la Freedom Call) or robot space battles (I’m looking at you, Iron Savior).

The first real track, ‘Weatherhold’, starts the album at its lowest point. The musicians are solid and nothing is necessarily bad, except maybe the synth solo, which is pretty sloppy, but nothing really sticks out. My expectations dropped from this song but, on the bright side, the album has plenty of room to get better, which it does.

Most of the proggy grooves and time changes aren’t forced and fit together well in the songs, evident in ‘Holders of the Stars’. The lyrics and parallel structure in this song are also really cool (as cool as fantasy lyrics can be, anyway). I was also really like the climbing vocal run, which sounds like something straight out of Disney, and the laid back solo section that follows.

One of my favourite tracks in A Wanderer’s Stories is Ritter’s Demon; while many of the synthesizer solos on the album aren’t anything special, the solo section in this song makes for exceptional synth and guitar solos alike. The song goes in many directions and the pulled back outro builds into a nice ending. 

Another notable mention is ‘Kivimaa’. It’s more pulled back than the rest of the record and there are no time changes or prog breaks, but it is straightforward and well done. The solos are awesome and there is even a soli at the end, which comes as a pleasant surprise. It’s nothing too complicated but solis are a rare breed in metal.

Overall, A Wanderer’s Stories is a hit for me. I wanted a bit more from it, but there is plenty of variety, especially considering the short runtime. The lyrics are actually tasteful and the songs are dynamic.

Additionally, despite the amount of prog influence, the songs aren’t strictly rigid. There is a lot of freedom that lets the background parts add more than just the typical “I’m gonna slap an extra snare onto the off beat and call it 11/8”. Fans of Dragonland, Falconer, Twilight Force, and Wisdom will enjoy this album. It will be a pleasure to see Black Sun Tales’ weave more fantastical stories.

Black Sun Tales – Ritter’s Demon

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