There’s always the risk that releasing an album in December will see it swamped in end-of-year roundups and the like, a fate which nearly befell the new length from South Dakota’s March In Arms. And frankly that would have ben a tragedy because Pulse of the Daring is one heck of an album, and one which deserves the fullest exposure possible.

Opening with the stunning 1914, the band sets out it’s stall early with track after track of stirring, uber-melodic American power metal. There’s an almost AOR feel to single release Welcome The Blitz, undoubtedly aided by the smooth vocals of frontman Ryan Knutson. At times his vocals add a sort of alt.rock grunginess to proceedings, which might be a sticking point for some listeners with more traditional tastes but which to these ears adds a definite point of difference to the usual Halford or Dio worship doled out by many a power metal vocalist. On the thrashier material here you’re confronted by a sound that might best be described as Trivium duking it out with Black Stone Cherry, which actually isn’t nearly as bad as you might expect.

But for the most part here you’re getting anthemic, blood-stirring heavy metal; closing track Not For Nothing is utterly spine-tingling, Knutson backed by rabble-rousing gang vocals and some superb guitar playing courtesy of the singer and six string comrades John Parker and Sheldon Swan – that’s right, March In Arms can boast a triple axe attack in best Leatherwolf fashion!

Actually, Leatherwolf isn’t that bad an overall descriptor for the area March In Arms are operating in; which means that, if great heavy metal songwriting, singing and playing gets you hot under the collar, which obviously it should, then Pulse Of The Daring might just be the late Christmas present you’ve been looking for. Highly recommended!

Pulse of the Daring is out now.