Hail! And welcome to the first Crusade of Power of 2018… We’re better for the break, refreshed and ready to bring more underground metal for the delectation of your ears! Enjoy!
First off for this year are Poles Factor 8. The band have been toiling away since 2009, but I don’t think they’ve released anything until now, with the emergence of new album The Valkyries, which came out last month.
The band play a varied style of traditional metal, with pretentions to power and prog along the way. Opening track The Mocracy actually sounds like a bit of a Megadeth/Pantera mashup, but Beyond Reach is probably more demonstrative of where the band see themselves, with well constructed riffage, occasionally backed by keyboard washes, painting a more progressive picture.
Founding members Mariusz Lemański (guitar) and Bartek Wojciechowski (vocals) are nicely prominent in the mix, which is basic but serves to get the band’s point across. Nice work!
A bit heavier are British one-piece Zel Agganor, who hail from York. Symphonic black metal is the name of the game here, with Zel Agganor giving more than a nod to compatriots Bel Saggoth.
Everything is played or programmed by Alethiuz, who, it has to be said, is a bit of a master craftsman. All the tracks are put together fabulously, and all feature mighty Saggothian narratives, spoken in that pitch-shifted voice that’ll either have you chortling away or punching the air in approbation.
Me? I’m definitely in the former camp, being a massive fan of sleek, glossy and very professional British black metal, and tracks like Profane Rites of Summoning won’t fail to appeal to anyone who enjoys a bit of Cradle of Filth or Dimmu Borgir every now and then. Album of the month!
We don’t often head off to Romania on Crusade, but all that changes this month thanks to a nice little EP from Craiova’s Adastia.
Shadows and Stories is only four tracks and a dash over twenty minutes long, but the band pack a hell of a lot into that short time, making this recor quite an explosive little package.
Power is the best of the four tracks on offer, mixing eighties-styled hard rock riffage with jagged, symphonic keys and a convincing vocal from Catalin Brinzan. It’s a dramatic, almost Eurovision-y romp that really sets the pulse racing, with Dan Mihai topping the whole thing off with some nice (if brief) lead work. The other tracks are all nearly as exciting, with closer To the North exhibiting that the band have no little knack for this sort of dramatic, heavily-layered power/pomp metal caper. Great stuff!
Mid-American steel! Kansas City denizens Alsatia were mighty unlucky not to snare the album of the month accolade from the Crusade this month, because their new album, Lost in the Storm is pretty bloody good. Tracks like Across the Fray are nigh on perfect, in fact, if hugely-orchestrated, brillianty executed balls-out power metal is your thing.
Seriously, everything about this album reeks of class, right down to the little AOR-styled keyboard fills that pop up every now and then to bolster the already-impressive melodies. Vocalist Scott Livingston is a throat right out of the top drawer, but as we often say here it’s no good having a great voice if you’re given rubbish to sing, and Lost in the Storm is very definitely not rubbish!
The galloping Sons of Alaric had me off the couch and lurching around the room, whilst epic closer A Life in Every Breath is right up there with the recent output of Blind Guardian, making this absolutely an essential purchase for Crusaders everywhere!
Greeks AngelMora are a quite superb band. Coming on like a head-mangling combination of Thundersteel-era Riot and early Stevens-era Savatage, there really is no fault to be found in their new Mask of Treason album, which was released in December on Steel Gallery Records.
Opening track Free Like an Eagle is utterly spellbinding, with vocalist Dyan Mair (who also plays guitar, sickeningly talented lad that he is) standing front and centre with a fine performance that brings to mind great names like Kiske and Tate – and I’m not indulging in hyperbole here.
Mair also co-produces the album, and he’s done a great job there too. Insistent heavy metal like the anthemic GodFaith absolutely crushes sonically, with the bass of Johnny Morris given a gratifyingly prominent place in the mix.
I’m going to call it now – I’m predicting big things for this band, and you absolutely must hear their album if you call yourself a fan of traditional US power metal. I implore you!
Finally this month we visit Boston, Massachusetts, and Perennial Quest, the self-styled ‘premier speedy power prog’ outfit on New England. And woah, there’s a lot going on here!
The band boast three lead guitarist and a keyboard player in their number, and in my experience that can mean a cacophonous racket often gets cooked up in the studio, especially by inexperienced musicians.
But no such fate befalls PQ – This six track album is blessed with a powerful, clear mix that allows everyone to shine when the time comes yet keeps everything nicely in order when it doesn’t.
Warriors Through Endless Time has a hint of Walls of Jericho-era Helloween about it – especially the frenetic drumming of Kevin Ordway, but the most part this is power metal rather than speed or thrash.
The vocals of Tony Dibiase lack a bit of conviction at times – the man can sing but just needs to push himself a bit more to live with the sonic blitzkrieg exploding around him – but overall Perennial Quest have delivered a ri-roaring, hugely enjoyable romp of an album!
That’s it for this month’s Crusade – I hope you’ll enjoy at least some, if not all of the music we’ve brought to your attention this month!
Hail and Kill,