Swedish trio Gauntlet Rule came together to recreate the glory days of eighties metal; as well we know here at Sentinel Daily, at least 32,567 other bands are currently following the same dream at the moment, so what do these guys have going for them that the rest of the Peloton lacks?

Well, for a start they have Rogga Johansson, one of the most consistent (and consistently impressive) heavy metal guitarists around. Johansson, you’ll remember, does almost all of his best work dealing out the death in bands like Paganizer and Ribspreader, amongst a lot of others; here you can almost hear the joy flowing from his fingers as he goes back to the source, in the process conjuring up a host of memorable HM riffs that you’ll not hear him go near in his day jobs; they’ve also got impressively strident vocalist Teddy Möller – you’ll know him from his work in Loch Vostok – and rounding out the trio is bassist Peter Svensson, who enjoys a prominent place in the album’s mix and grabs the chance to shine, thunderously, whenever he can.

That’s a pretty good basis, I’m sure you’ll agree, and on tracks like the excellent Runes of the Autumn Witch, the band, augmented on lead guitar by regular Johansson accomplice Kjetil Lynghaug, make a pretty good fist of looking like trad metal contenders. So good, in fact, that the arrival of Iron Maiden alumnus Blaze Bayley, who takes over vocal duties on Dying For My Dreams, comes across as a bit of an unnecessary celebrity encumbrance; He doesn’t do anything that Möller can’t, for instance, and it’s hard to see the Tamworth terror adding to many bums to the Gauntlet Rule seating plan in 2022. The band’s other vocal guest, American chanteuse Lorraine Gill (of cult metallers Taist of Iron), fares better, giving here all to the US power metal fest that is A Choir of Angels; bolstered by Svensson’s strident clank she delivers the good in controlled, slightly menacing style.

Closing track Death Will Be Ours (And Ours Alone) is a – you guessed it – sprawling epic, and if the album is maybe a brace of tracks light on true showstoppers to be considered a bona fide classic then it is, at least, one of the most interesting trad metal albums you’ll hear in 2022. Worth a punt.

The Plague Court releases on March 18th.