Grand Magus – Iron Will – 4.5/5
So, we move onto a band that’s hardly poorly known. So imagine my surprise when I discover that they have an album out and nobody has mentioned it. Did nobody know? Or nobody care? Was it something abominable best forgotten? Answer: a resounding no. In fact, it’s probably my favourite album I’ve heard from them. Yes, even better than monument.
Grand Magus always seems to have a nack for evolving their sound, sounding slightly different on each release and slapping something fresh on the metal table. But make no mistake when I tell you this album sounds like pure metal, incarnated into a cd you can put on your stereo. With a roar of guitar thunder and a thick and fast drum beat, this intro perfectly backs up my statement. If there’s a better song to bang your head to, I’ve either forgotten it or never heard it. This song with its combination of thick and slick guitar riffs, sweeping, powerful vocals (including a chorus that is simply impossible to stop yourself screaming along to) and a guitar solo reeking of the good ol’ days, this is metal at its absolute core, exemplifying everything that should be loved and cherished about the genre.
The guitars are in no way technical, even the solo’s are fairly slow-paced compared to a lot of metal bands, but what they miss out there, they back up in simply being hard hitting. Every riff hits like a strike of thunder, impacting often with the drums to great effect, resulting in a sound both addictive and instantly loveable and distinct. This is the bread and butter of the music, as the vocals and the solo’s are the works of genius. Both filled with emotion, aggression, and with more than a subtle hint of that favourite of topics, Viking Warriors. Just read the track names. “Silver into Steel,” “Iron Will,” and “Like the oar hits the Water” for example.
And it’s consistent throughout. In this album of epic proportions, there is no filler, nothing out of place, no point where a track seems to run on too long, no bad solo. This is a band that has been working on their art, and have come damn close to perfection. Its main drawbacks being lack of originality (the sound is nothing unheard of, simply done exceptionally well) and the fact that upon repeated listens, some of the tracks sound similar, with the exception of the vocals. The lyrics aren’t always what I’d hope them to be, but certainly at no point bad, and there is a distinctive slump in the consistency towards the end of the album. The vocals in particular seem to have less power, and aggression behind them. If this was replaced by more of a doom feel, this would create a different tone as the album progresses. However, in the grand scheme of things, even the worst track on this album is far better than the vast majority of bands.
This is a Heavy/Doom band leaning more on the heavy side, This isn’t quite a masterpiece, but certainly not far off. I honestly can’t believe nobody has mentioned this band yet (shame on you all). Strongly recommended for anyone who likes their metal epic and heavy, with a hint of a 70s rock groove, clear as day Viking imagery and chorus’ lines to die for.
Highlights: Like the oar strikes the water, Silver into Steel, The Shadow Knows.
By T. Bawden