North Carolina’s Temptation’s Wings could quite rightfully be described as the quiet achievers of American metal. Extant in some form or another for a dozen or so years, they’ve stealthily gone about their business, releasing a demo and a couple of extended players, all the while building to this point – the release of the quite excellent full-length debut Skulthor Ebonblade.

Drawing on a long line of American tradition in this field that takes in bands as apparently far apart as Molly Hatchet, Brocas Helm, Alabama Thunderpussy, Argus and High on Fire, Skulthor Ebonblade is a warrior-based concept album that would, were there any justice in the world, come sheathed in a brand, spanking new Frank Frazetta-painted album cover.

But there’s no justice, we all know that, and so Temptation’s Wing’s go without the shiny threads. In every other respect, however, they live up to the expectations of their lineage very well indeed, providing the listener with an album’s worth of ambitious, well-executed sturm und drang which, if slightly lead footed and one-paced in places, never actually becomes tedious at all. Galloping tales of betrayal like Treachery of the Black Raven carry all the martial, paganistic import their titles would suggest as the band develops its tale of Conan-styled savagery and honour on the broadest palette available to them. The hulking lope of Witches of Dreadmoor has a whiff of Into Glory Ride-era Manowar about its dread plod and features some excellent bass playing from Chad Barnwell, not to mention a powerful performance behind the kit from drummer Jason. As is always necessary in the trio format, all musicians pull their fair share, with guitarist/vocalist Micah throwing some gloriously crystalline solos into the mix too, the result being a superb exposition of epic metal, the apogee of which is the chugging closer My Name Was Skullthor, where everything comes together in scintillating style.

If you’re looking for more-up-to-date, non-American comparisons then I guess Grand Magus might fit the bill, but this band is old-fashioned, American-metal-through-and-through in every respect and thus such comparisons are effectively pointless. Their doom-tinged trad metal is a joy to listen to, and I happily recommend it to you if you enjoy listening to any of the bands I’ve mentioned above.

Skullthor Ebonblade is out NOW.