Saturday, October 25, 2008

GRAND MAGUS - Iron Will CD review

Rise Above Records

After the first listen I would've thought this was something from the early 80s. There were plenty of obscure bands doing the Viking mythology thing. But nowadays it's called Battle Metal and GRAND MAGUS should be the true kings of that genre. Hailing from Sweden this power trio led by J B Christoffersson (SPIRITUAL BEGGARS) on guitar and vocals have hammered out (get it?) some cool "retro" Heavy Metal "dude". I can just picture myself standing in some smokey mid-sized rock club. Which actually is not very hard to do. But the club is packed with guys and gals all wearing leather jackets, spiked wrist bands poking out from their sleeves as they raise their arms up giving the two fingered fist salute. Everyone is banging their heads as GRAND MAGUS is on stage cranking out simple and yet totally heavy fucking shit.

This dink opens with "Like the Oar Strikes the Water" which is a decent starting off point. You've got some acoustic guitar in the beginning which gives it a Folk Metal appeal. But after a few seconds the song takes off with some DIO era SABBATH speed and a cool guitar lead. Next up is probably my favorite cut on the CD, "Fear is the Key" which also has a DIO era SABBATH feel to it. Very dynamic sounding NWOBHM type stuff. The following two cuts are actually one. "Hovding" is simply a Geezer Butler style bass intro which leads us into the title cut. It's also got that DIO era SABBATH feel to it but with a lyrical style taken right out of the MANOWAR song writing handbook. A melodic hook ladened cut with a simple guitar solo and an on going chorus which is totally fucking retro.

This is followed up with "Silver Into Steel" which once again has that DIO era SABBATH thing going with a little Bruce Dickenson style vocals thrown in for good measure. "The Shadow Knows" has a riff worthy of Dave Murry/Adrian Smith, even the lead guitar too. I'm actually banging my head to this fucking song! The one cut that changes the whole pace and style of the CD is "Self Deceiver". This sounds like something CANDLEMASS would've recorded a few years back. It's damm good and it shows that the band can really lay down some evil Doom. The theme continues on "Beyond Good & Evil" with more CANDLEMASS/SABBATH inspired Doom. And if that fucking riff isn't Iommi's I'll go to an Emo show and like it. Trust me it's Iommi's all right. The final cut "I am the North" is probably the only sleeper on the release coming in at 9:04. More SABBATH worship but decent enough in an epic sounding way. All in all a truly excellent release.

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