Greetings! As ever, we’ve got a lot to get through this month so we’ll keep the chat to a minimum… suffice to say this month’s Crusade is choc-full of high quality heavy metal! Enjoy!
Kicking off this month we have Sydney, Australia-based project Burnt City. The brainchild of Aydin Zahedi, who is the only Australian-based musician actually in the outfit, the project promises pure power metal with progressive touches, and, on tracks like Armageddon from their just-released debut EP that’s exactly what you get.
This should be of no surprise when you hear who else is on board, with bass duties being fulfilled by Symphony X man Mike LePond, vocals coming from ex-Revolution Renaissance throatsmith Gus Monsanto, keys being tinkled by Firewind’s Bob Katsionis and the drumming coming from Nile’s George Kollias. That means there’s a lot of pedigree in Burnt City, and that pedigree shines through on every track. Well worth some of your time!
Roman power metallers Dragonhammer have been putting records out in one for or another for some sixteen years, and they’ve just released their fourth full length, Obscurity, on My Kingdom Music. It’s very much of its kind as far as Italian Symphonic power metal goes, but it does have it’s moments, not least the superb Brother vs Brother where the band cut down on the floridity a little and just rock out in extremely enjoyable style.
Vocalist Max Aguzzi isn’t quite as shrill as many of his compatriot vocalists, adding a pleasing grit to his vocal armoury; however that isn’t to say he can’t handle the more pompous material the band inevitably produce – he can. The standout track on Obscurity is the stellar Under The Vatican’s Ground, a galloping, strident tale of Papal perfidy that brings to mind very early Avantasia, which is obviously never a bad thing.
Never was a band so appositely monickered! Swedes Metalite do, indeed, produce very light metal indeed, but for all that there’s something very alluring about the Eurovision-friendly Afterlife. Emma Bensing sings with a very modern sort of detachment, never really pushing the envelope but handling the euphoric mid-song key change with aplomb.
Bands like Amaranthe are making a very nice living indeed with this sort of pop metal at the moment, and whilst Metalite don’t have any of the dancefloor friendly bombast of Elize Ryd and company there is something about them that creeps up on you and makes you love them all the same. Not for everyone, sure, but still worthy of a place on this month’s crusade!
In Aevum Agere
Italian doomsters In Aevum Agere are celebrating the tenth anniversary of the release of their first demo recording, From the Depth of Soul, by remastering the whole thing and making it available on CD and in digital form. Epic, emotional doom is the order of the day, with the sonorous vocals of Bruno Masulli (who also supplies the crunching riffs) being a particular highlight of tracks like From the Depth of Soul and In Aevum Agere.
Despite the remastering process this is absolutely no-frills stuff, so people looking for the sort of bombastic production values of the recent Below album or similar may find themselves a little disappointed in that respect; however in all other aspects this is a very listenable release indeed, with the band displaying a firm grasp of the importance of dynamics and being able to pen some fine traditional heavy metal.
Talking of traditional metal, which we usually are at the Crusade, you could do a lot worse than to treat your ears to the new album from Greek assault team Gauntlet. So old school they are still using bits of slate and chalk, Gauntlet really do understand what it takes to make proper heavy metal, Even their song titles are resolutely old fashioned – Back on the Streets, Hearts of Metal, Vengeance, Warriors – but that doesn’t detract from the fact that this is really strong trad metal.
Iron Maiden are clearly a big touchstone here – the first two albums especially – but although the band’s overall sound claims direct descent from the NWoBHM they really don’t sound too much like any specific band. This music is all about feel, and the sincerity of the band shines through in such force as to overwhelm any little complaints one might have about the production. This is heavy metal as it should be played, and it’s this Crusade’s release of the month!
You’ll doubtless be familiar with Power Quest, the Brit metallers who’ve been plugging away for nearly twenty years now in some form or another; they’ve been something of a breeding ground for power metal musos, with Sam Totman of DragonForce and Andrea Martongelli of Arthemis both having passed through the band’s ranks. ZP Theart, once also of DragonForce and now of Skid Row has also been involved in a guest capacity.
But that’s all in the past, and Power Quest are now back and touting their sixth full length album, called, with fiendish logicality, Sixth Dimension. It’s solid stuff, a bit more ‘hard rocky’ in places than the band’s usual high-velocity symphonic assault and all the better for it. They’ve not deviated too much, of course, and long term fans of the band will find the familiarity of both style and material comforting I’m sure.
Power Quest are a band that have never quite got the breaks, so to still be going after all this time is a real tribute to the dedication and vison of keyboardist Steve Williams who has carried the flame for the band, sometimes seemingly single-handedly throughout their long and sadly stuttering career. Well worthy of your support. And Anette Olzon makes a guest appearance on the title track!
That’s it for the November Crusade – I hope we’ve unearthed something to pique all sorts of metallic interest in you – see you next month, for a Christmas Crusade of Power!
hail and kill