Monday, 3 March 2014

Album Review; Grand Magus - Triumph And Power

Track Listing:

1. On Hooves Of Gold
2. Steel Versus Steel
3. Fight
4. Triumph And Power
5. Dominator
6. Arv
7. Holmgang
8. The Naked And The Dead
9. Ymer
10. The Hammer Will Bite

Sweden's Grand Magus are now onto their seventh album. This is a band that, from individual to individual are held in either very high regard or with indifference. In my opinion, they're a very accomplished band. They may not have broken many boundaries, but the quality of their albums cannot be denied. They've always got a good, memorable riff and powerful vocal hooks on par with the classic Metal bands. Heavy Metal is what they do, without any bullshit. Neither old-school nor modern.

In the form of 'Triumph And Power', Grand Magus have delivered their strongest album to date. The effortlessly epic feel of the opener 'No Hooves Of Gold' couldn't possibly fail to put any listener in the mood for the fist pumping anthemic songs that make up the rest of the album. JB Christoffersson's booming voice is in as fine a form as ever, and his aptitude for riff crafting remains inspired.

Lyrically the songs border on ridiculous, but this is nothing new for Heavy Metal. Grand Magus execute it in such a way that it doesn't sound self conscious or silly. Instead, it's another hearty celebration of the over the top imagery that found it's home in Heavy Metal decades ago. The mid-paced NWOBHM flavoured tune 'Steel Versus Steel' shows this well. 'Fight' is a call to arms for revolution, but neither a stand-out track nor a poor one. A slightly bland moment.

It's more than made up for on the title track, which stomps and pounds with a chest-beating sense of self belief and empowerment, built in to an imagery of battle and glory. The riff is another winner, and the contrast between JB's low range vocals to his higher, powerful wails helps the song to no end. All the while, Ludwig Witt's drums keep the battle march constant and tightly wound.

'Dominator' is my personal favourite song on the album, I can't place if it's the riff, the lyrical content or the sing-along quality of it. It's most likely a combination of the three. This is where Grand Magus excel; it's not about gimmicks or fads. They've made a career out of writing good, memorable songs that have fun with Heavy Metal.

Strange instrumental intermission 'Arv' might not be anything exceptional in itself, but it does give a touch of sonic variety on the record, as well as set the listener up for the next song, 'Holmgang'. The slightly faster, Rock 'N' Roll feel of 'The Naked And The Dead' definitely catches the ear more, and shows a lot of solid drum fills from Witt.

The album is concluded with 'The Hammer Will Bite', which begins with a clean, single note guitar line before bursting into full swing with one of the best riffs this album offers. Again, the epic feel is there, reminiscent somewhat of the band's amazing 'Ravens Guide Our Way' from 2010's 'Hammer Of The North'.

As I've mentioned, there isn't really anything new here, but nor should there be; Grand Magus definitely follow the "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" adage, like AC/DC, Saxon and Motorhead before them, and this is what keeps them in such good stead with the Metal community as a whole. It doesn't matter how much Metal's more extreme subgenres continue to progress and morph into new styles over the years; there will always be a place for that classic sound of Heavy Metal. As that goes; Grand Magus' latest is a damn-near perfect showcase of what makes it such a satisfying sound even after all these years. It won't be everyone's cup of tea (What is?) but it is more than worth a listen if you fancy going back to basics without going back to an album that's decades old. The Grand Magus fanbase will not be disappointed.

Rating: 7/10

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