Fantasy and Heavy Metal. Who would have thought that these two can go together? Well, who else but pretty much every Metal fan and anybody else who is at least remotely acquainted with the genre. Yes sure, Metal is not just sword and magic, but Grand Magus’ “Sword Songs” sure is. Surprise, surprise. But then, so what? Stereotypes and clichees can be fun, so why not indulge in them?
And that is exactly what Grand Magus does. The band literally bathes in all sorts of warrior clichés and that right from the beginning. Take the first song “Freya’s Choice”, for instance. There is a touch of Power Metal, clean vocals and lyrics about the goddess of fertility and magic, Freya. Yes, it might be a bit on the slower side for a Power Metal song – I would call it midtempo –, but Metal is not just about speed. The next song “Varangians” (Varangian is the medivial Greek and old Slavic name for the Vikings) continues the theme. Not bad, but musical-wise it could deviate a bit more from the first song. “Forged In Iron – Crowned in Steel” picks up the pace quite a bit which is nice for a change. Also, it is one of those songs that give Metalfans that certain shiver going down the spine that we all love so much. Yes, it is obviously a bit cheesy, but so what? This kind of cheese is way too tasty to ignore! More please! “Born for Battle” is a bit slower again, but there is still a certain vibe about the song that makes it special. I particularly enjoyed how the drums and the guitar both seem to accentuate the vocalists’ singing. Team work par excellence which is what makes this song work; well, that and the guitar solo. A nice example for fist pumping Heavy Metal! The next song offers a nice break with its starting drum part that reminds me of a (war-)hammer striking down time and time again and very fitting for a warrior/viking themed album. It is still weaker than the earlier two songs, but still not bad. And then another excellent treat in the form of the sixth song “Last One To Fall”. Riffs, drums, clean vocals, that simply takes you away and probably the best song on the album. “Frost and Fire”, a mid tempo song again, follows next. After that follows “Hugr”, an acoustic song on the guitar. According to an online dictionary it is an old Norse term for the word “thought” which is probably the reason why it is so simplistic. Personally, I prefer the next/last song “Everyday There Is Battle To Fight” for this. Life is a battle, but you’ve got to get up, get yourself together and fight the fight anyway so to say. And yes, if you allow for it then this song can help you there. The line “it [Heavy Metal] is therapeutic healing” from Judas Priest’s song “Heavy Metal” is obviously still valid!
But which rating does the album deserve? Personally, I feel the need to give it 7 devils. Yes, there are great songs on the album and I love its vibe, but 8 devils would be a bit much. Be that as it may, please notice how I obviously feel the need to apologise for this. It is an extremely strong 7 devils album and if this kind of Heavy Metal is your kind of Heavy Metal then go and get it!
- Freja’s Choice
- Forged In Iron – Crowned In Steel
- Born For Battle (Black Dog Of Brocéliande)
- Master Of The Land
- Last One To Fall
- Frost And Fire
- Everyday There’s A Battle To Fight
Playing time: 34:46
Release date: 13 May, 2016
Label: Nuclear Blast
Website: Grand Magus @ Facebook