Phew. It’s not often this reviewer gets genuinely hot under the collar about an album in the review queue, but I have to admit I’ve become a bit discombobulated after a few listens to this superb new offering from Swedes Sarayasign! Melodic metal mayhem ahoy!
Twenty five years is a long gestation period, but that’s how long the seeds of the idea that is now Sarayasign have lain dormant in the creative mind of the project’s drummer/rhythm axe/prime mover Jesper Lindbergh. All I can say is that I’m mighty glad he decided that now was the time to unleash this particular beast!
Essentially a concept album formed around the fictitious land of Saraya, Throne of Gold is, in simple terms, ‘just’ a superb heavy metal album, the centre point of which is the quite miraculous vocal performance of Stefan Nykvist. During the album’s big power ballad If Only For A Moment I leapt from my listening stool quite involuntarily as he hit note after triumphant note; Not in a showy way, you understand, but in the slightly understated, fully-under-controlled manner that only truly fine vocalists possess. I have been happy to accept for some while now to accept that Perfect Plan/Giant throatsmith Kent Hilli is the undisputed king of Swedish singing, but on hearing this titanic slab of goosebump-inducing grandeur… I’m just not so sure!
It’s not all soft-focussed whimsy in the world of Saraya, however, and fans of the heavier end of the melodic metal spectrum will be pleased to hear that there is plenty of headbangable material on offer too. This band knows how to pile on the drama, and tracks like Sandman and When Worlds Collide certainly keep the listener engaged via the medium of great singing, sharp storytelling and, perhaps most importantly, downright brilliant metal songsmithery. The former, in particular, with it’s stentorian, Holy Diver-style riffs (the album overall, not just the title track) and superb lead work from Daniel Blohm, is genuinely exciting.
The superb Run is reminiscent of David Reece‘s recent output – superior, drama-laden vocals, memorable musicianship, you know the score – with Andreas Axelsson-Hofgren‘s keys adding real depth and class to the mix, whilst the epic title track close out proceedings in gloriously overblown fashion – but in a good way, natch…
Basically, Throne of Gold is a flawless slice of melodic metal that is built to appeal to anyone who loves classic, perfectly executed heavy music. If that sounds like you, then it’s purchase is a genuine no-brainer – to the ATM!
Throne of Gold releases on June 24th.