Welcome to this month’s Crusade of Power! Let’s get straight into it!
This month’s Crusade starts off with some pleasing NWoBHM-inspired doom from Ontario, Canada. Toronto-based Possessed Steel have just released a new EP, entitled Order of the Moon, which is a cracking little four tracker full of heroic Vikings and Steel Giants. Musically pretty basic – or maybe stripped down would be a better description – Possessed Steel get right to the heart of the matter with a direct style that doesn’t stint on melody but is hard hitting nonetheless.
Valhalla is probably the best of the quartet on show, and features some fine lead playing from Stevie Mac, but if you call yourself a fan of unadorned true metal you’ll love every drop of Order of the Moon.
Bulgarians Abstraction come at their power/prog metal from a slightly skewed angle. Their new three track EP, Nightmare, starts off like some long-lost seventies prog metal masterpiece, all glittering keyboards, power chords and dramatic drum stabs. However, as the music settles down you realise that this band is actually a pretty heavy, technically-minded power metal unit. Vocalist Mladen Medarov might lack a bit of grunt in some places for some listeners, but apart from that the whole of Nightmare is an exercise in ‘what’s not to like?’, especially the lead guitar playing of Danail Karjilov. But can we have a whole track like the intro next time please?
Italian multi instrumentalist Filippo Tezza has created a gargantuan soundscape with his new album, A Shelter from Existence, which, despite being released late last month was written between 2013 and 2015. However, the music doesn’t sound at all dated as this is timeless symphonic power metal we’re talking about. Arrangements are brash and in-your-face, but that only adds to the enjoyment, and Filippo’s light-fingered lead technique will probably give rise to a few Rhapsody thoughts flitting across the listener’s mind, but surely that’s not a bad thing? Obviously Tezza isn’t quite in Luca Turilli’s league yet, but this is spirited, enjoyable stuff nonetheless.
Also from Italy are Astral Fire. The Florentine quintet are similarly classically-minded to Tezza F, thought their music is definitely more highly mannered. Oversoul is a galloping romp, the vocals of Maurizio Bergamini perhaps a little too high in the mix but lots of fun nonetheless. Drummer Tiziano Valentini must have calves like tree trunks – the man’s double bass work on this song is relentless – whilst the guitars of Niccolò Carpentieri and Edoardo Scali weave in and out of one another with the sort of practised ease only truly professional musicians can muster.
It’s pulse-raising, audience-involving stuff, and if maybe you could ask for a little more originality there’s not a lot else to fault on this five track EP.
Australians Trigger offer up the most aggressive dose of metal in this month’s Crusade, fusing technical power metal with thrash/melodeath dynamics in devastating style. Tim Leopold possesses a fearsome roar, but they band are savvy enough to throw in some melodic vocal lines to break up the otherwise relentless assault, and Leopold handles these with as much aplomb as the shouting.
The opening track of their soon-come album Cryogenesis, Upon the Forge of Hephaestus, is a riveting assault on the senses that basically packs every-dramatic device known to metal in it’s four-and-a-bit minute duration, leaving the listener battered and bruised but definitely wanting more.
Dead Sun is considerably more melodic – you could see this song conquering Euro festival stages next year – but whichever path this band follows – melodic or out-and-out heavy – they sound like real contenders. Release of the month!
Death of Kings
Much heavier, and, dare I say it, uncompromising, are Atlanta, Georgia’s Death of Kings. Their new album comes clothed in a ‘proper’ old fashioned heavy metal sleeve, and their music – a breakneck mix of death, black and thrash – is just as traditional. Fans of Goatwhore and Venom Inc will lap up the simple brutality of it all, but that descriptor doesn’t seek to underplay how effective this band is. Regicidal is an absolute tidal wave of blackened noise, tight as a gnat’s chuff but with enough unhinged flair to draw in the unsuspecting listener and keep him or her interested, nay energised. This band knows what it’s doing and does it bloody well. And, with this album coming in at $6.66 on Bandcamp, they are doing it at a reasonable price too, so we’re all winners! Get involved!
That’s it for this month troops – really good stuff was a bit thin on the ground so it’s a shorter Crusade than usual! Hopefully we’ll have a lot more to share next month!
Hail and Kill