Ferry Templeton runs the rule over another batch of underground metal releases...
Welcome to Ferrum Templor’s Crusade of Power! After a month off we’re back and ready to spread the word about a fresh contingent of underground metal hopefuls! Sit back and enjoy what we’ve come up with for your delectation this month!
Salt Lake City metallers Thrall’s Ritual are an interesting prospect. Ostensibly a melodic death metal outfit – the opening track on their Tales of a Decaying Epoch album, To the Sands, is an exciting slice of Amon Amarth-inspired mayhem – they actually churn out a pretty varied sonic assault over the course of the record. Humanity Lost has a primitive, NWoBHM feel to it whilst In Odin’s Name mixes the two styles together to come up with a sort of Cirith Ungol/Brocas Helm hybrid that is pretty exciting to listen to.
Isle of Avalon
British act Isle of Avalon are operating in prog metal territory, though their music often verges on black metal in terms of heaviness and brutality. However the vocals of Fædon Diamantopoulos have more in common with Elvenking’s Damna than Dani Filth, bringing a pleasingly melodic edge to proceedings on the Jabberwocky-inspired Tulgey Wood.
The Arthurian Lyre of Lyonesse is bucolic and folky at the outset – it heavies up midway through – and features female backing accompaniment in a sort of Blackmore’s Night fashion; but whatever style the band adopt they sound polished and professional, and well worth a listen if medieval-flavoured metal floats your coracle.
Brazillians Majorem Gloriam are a much more straightforward beast. Classic melodic Christian power metal not too dissimilar to Angra (sonically at least) is the order of the day, with super singalong refrains and nice backing vocals adding colour to the reasonably uncomplicated riffage of Bruno Vitor and Guilherme Resende. This is classic stuff, nothing more nothing less, and in the quite superb Open Arms the band have got one of the catchiest power metal anthems of 2017, replete with captivating samba outro!
Worship Him is a prog metal power ballad, a song which manages to mix Stryper and Symphony X without coming off as forced or contrived, and it’s almost as good as Open Arms. If you can live with the slightly preachy lyrics, there’s a lot of enjoyment to be gleaned from Braços Abertos.
Tales of Gaia
Spain’s Tales of Gaia are similarly uncomplicated, offering up a delicious menu of Euro power metal presented with minimum fuss but maximum impact. Néstor Català has the sort of helium-fuelled, Geddy Lee style vocals that seem to grate on many people’s ears, and he does come across as a little thin in places, but the fact remains that his vocal style fits the overblown bombast of the music perfectly on exciting tracks like Keep the Dream Alive.
Flamma Ardet starts with sombre piano before kicking off into anthem land at full pelt and, if the band are doing nothing new, what they are doing is often exhilarating and always enjoyable.
Naming yourself after a HammerFall album is always going to pay dividends as far as the Crusade of Power is concerned, and Tuscans Crimson Thunder luckily manage to live up to the expectations engendered by their monicker. There are still a few rough edges evident on their Thunder Wrath EP, released last month, but tracks like Rain of Tears are enjoyable enough, and point to a band with a bright future if they can keep progressing.
The band employ a Leatherwolf-style triple axe attack, and the track Footprints in the Void does have a slight whiff of those American metal gods in its melodicism if not quite in its accomplishment. These blokes are at the start of their career (although they formed five years ago this is their first EP), so a bit of slack can surely be cut for their at times naïve approach, and they are well worth a bit of your support.
Finns Nightstryke formed in 2015, but by the sound of their new album Power Shall Prevail they may well have actually been in some sort of cryogenic stasis since 1984. Metal doesn’t come much more trad than this, with uptempo drumming and rattling basswork (Leevi Lehtinen gets a really great sound) providing the solid framework for some superb riffing and soloing from Rami Hermunen and Juho Karpinnen. Neon Killer is a quite superb slice of NWoBHM-inspired bombast, and this album would appear to be an essential purchase for fans of traditional heavy metal everywhere. Buy or die!
Finally this month we have San Franciscans Hell Fire, who released a new album, Free Again, in the middle of August. It’s a wonderful record, fiercely melodic yet heavy as hell in the grand style of early eighties heavy metal. Star of the show is vocalist/guitarist Jake Nunn – this man can sing! However the whole band are top notch operatives, and songs like the album’s title track are among the best of their kind I’ve heard all year. If you have a soft spot for old English bands like Wildfire and Weapon, you’ll absolutely lap this album up. Release of the month by a country mile!
That’s it for this month – hopefully you’ll all enjoy at least some of the excellent new metal we’ve uncovered this month- see you next time,
Hail and Kill!