Welcome to the now-occasional Crusade! I hope you haven’t been suffering too badly from withdrawal symptoms for our kind of metal! Anyway – that’s enough by way of introduction – let’s let the music do the talking!
A well-known name by now in European power metal circles, Greeks Artical are back for the first time in seven years with a brand new full-length album entitled Forevermore – and pretty good it is too! Helmed as ever by mainman Mike Dimareli (guitars), the main thing to note if you are not familiar with the band is the appearance vocally on all tracks on this album by the legendary American singer Mark Boals. Now, Artical haven’t exactly been lacking in class before, of course, but it isn’t going overboard too much to suggest that Boal’s contributions on Forevermore certainly takes the band up a notch or two in the listenability stakes…
The title track is a piece of fast-paced power/symphonic metal that Stratovarius would have been proud of in their pomp, and although it’s easy to single Boals out for praise it has to be said that the whole band pull out all the stops on this track in particular. Angelos Gerogiannis is a fine keyboard player who meshes well with Dimareli, whilst the rhythm section of Leonidas Petropoulos (bass) and drummer George Mantzidis do exactly what you’d expect from a power metal engine room. Big ballad Until The Morning Comes is a particular fave of your humble reviewer, but there is quite truthfully not a single poor track on this album and you’ll all find your own particular faves I think. A great way to kick off a new Crusade!
We wouldn’t normally feature an EP full of cover versions here at the Crusade, but Argentina’s Silverheart have attacked their new Queens of Metal extended player with such verve and passion that we simply couldn’t resist it!
In short you get six tracks for your three American dollars, all Queen songs originally, now covered in a generally more metallic fashion by these Rosario-based headbangers. Centrepiece is a rip-roaring take on the epic Innuendo that does full justice to the original (especially the rather nifty flamenco section!). Don’t Stop Me Now is rather good too, with some nice riffage from Darío Núñez. Singer Fernando Grandi is, of course, on a hiding to nothing taking on the Mercury role, but he generally acquits himself well with a full-blooded, honest days work put in behind the mic. If you’re a Queen fan, don’t be too precious – just take this for what it is – and I guarantee Silverheart will bring a smile to your face!
Out last month was Invisible Enemy, the excellent debut full-length from Finnish metal juggernaut Mysterizer. Taut, compact but above all bloody heavy, Mysterizer revel in their old-fashioned mission to simply bang as many heads as is humanly possible. Mike Hammer and Janne Marjamaa churn out riff over hummable riff, backed by a meat n’potatoes rhythm section (that’s bassist Jari Alakoski and drummer Pasi Niskala) who don’t allow themselves much time for showing off but do play their supporting roles with sheer, stonewall solidity. As a unit these four are super tight, and vocalist Tomi Kurtti sits above it all, letting out a savage banshee wail that counterpoints the bludgeoning going on around him perfectly.
Songs like Trails of Blood and Angel of Mercy are what Sentinel Daily editor Scott Adams would call ‘proper metal’, battering slabs of unforgiving, hellacious noise that you can’t help but start windmilling to, and if the band surrender a little originality in the search for sheer, unremitting impact then you won’t hear any complaints form us herer at the Crusade. Proper metal indeed!
Ariel Perchuk’s Odyssey
Back to Argentina we go, this time to the Capital Buenos Aires and Ariel Perchuk’s Odyssey, who have created some quintessential Crusade of Power music on their new EP The Storm. Grandiose, epic, overblown – all the things we love! – the four tracks tell the Old Testament tale of Jonah via the gift of florid keyboards, pounding drums, wailing vocals and staccato riffage. Opening track Ninevah echoes Yngwie circa Marching Out – I’m not kidding, it really is that good – with guitarist Luis D’Alessandro and the eponymous hero of the whole thing Ariel Perchuk on keyboards duelling like dogfighting fighter plans struggling to gain supremacy over one another. On top of all this guest vocalist Leonardo Gamallo puts in an absolutely first rate performance at the mic.
This is seriously impressive stuff.
D’Alessandro and Perchuk go at it again on the second track, Jonah’s Rebellion, which is an instrumental, giving the pair licence to go for the throat again and again. Which they do in finest neoclassical style.
Neoclassical/symphonic metal is an already-overcrowded scene, I know – getting busier by the day, it seems – but you really will have to go a long way to find an ‘unknown’ band who can match APO in terms of chops and execution. This is truly classic stuff, and comes very highly recommended indeed!
Finally for this edition of the Crusade we head to Fort Worth in Texas and the old school metal of Iron Jaw. Their new EP, Chain of Command, is a quite superb synthesis of most of the Gods of the old school but, thanks to the earth-shattering vocal contribution of Todd Pack, mainly Judas Priest. The best thing about Pack is that, whilst he does undoubtedly sound like the Metal God, he doesn’t go for simply battering the listener over the head with Painkiller-type screaming all the time. Instead he opts for that crunchy mid-range snarl adopted by Rob Halford across the late seventies/early eighties (ie Classic Priest), giving a classy veneer to all the tracks featured on this all-too-short EP. When he does scream, he makes it count, as do Rick Perry and Jeff Brown on guitar, both of whom rein in the histrionics to concentrate on ruthlessly efficient riffs and surgically precise solos.
In other words the constituent parts of what make for a classic heavy metal band of the old school are all present and correct in Iron Jaw – and I for one can’t wait to hear a full length offering from what is rapidly becoming my fave new HM band on the planet! Release of the month!
And that’s it for this installment of the Crusade – I hope you’ve enjoyed the return of the column as much as I have and at least found one or new tunes to add to your collections… until the next time-
Hail and Kill!