Artist: Grand Magus
Title: Hammer of the North
Genre: Heavy Metal
Release Date: 18th June 2010
Label: Roadrunner Records
GRAND MAGUS is a heavy metal band that has been around since the nineties. They’ve kept a steady pace over the years at creating minimal, but great music in the vein of melodic metal mixed with heavy metal. No keyboards or wild solos… just good hooks and catchy riffs. With only three members between these Swedes it is a wonder how much noise three people can make with just guitars, bass, and drum and not sound so monotonous like other three piece bands can. And with their latest release, ‘Hammer of the North’, fans should expect a crunching, rock driven album that brings back the early days of metal.
In a world where metal music can get as complicated as a band like PERIPHERY can create wonderfully complex music for some to enjoy, a headache for others, GRAND MAGUS likes to keep things simple and enjoyable. ‘Hammer of the North’ keeps with the Viking / winter north themes of their music but still injects a hard, clean sound while retaining the old-school feeling of heavy metal that bands like JUDAS PRIEST and WHITE WIZZARD inject in their music. Tracks such as ‘I, The Jury’ and ‘At Midnight They Get Wise’ are rapid chuggers infused with plenty of groove, using repetition and crunch to get listeners’ attention. Vocals aren’t throaty and raw as some would expect from a heavy metal band; instead they fall into a slightly melodic clean category that is almost power metal, but doesn’t reach as high. The music rises and falls around it, always trying to stay enjoyable. Some tracks are slower and more rhythmic than the others like ‘The Lord of Lies’. These tracks focus more on letting the vocals deliver the music while the music slowly rolls behind. It is very simple, but extremely melodic.
‘Hammer of the North’ also has some atmosphere to go along with the music. Keeping with the “folkish” side of semi Viking metal, ‘Black Sails’ offers an opening chorus that sounds like a chant to prepare to set sail on a journey to conquer before the music opens up like a curtain for some great heavy metal opera. It is truly a majestic musical structuring. The closing track, ‘Ravens Guide Our Way’, creates a chilling feeling like one is up in the north before they are swept away by the music, which is extremely groove laden and a real enjoyment as the vocals tell the story. Mixed up with the faster tracks, the entire album is worth every minute simply for the sheer music genius of something so simple. GRAND MAGUS doesn’t overdo their work, and yet still deliver with all-heart, no-half-ass efforts. ‘Hammer of the North’ is certainly worth checking out for anyone who enjoys doom or heavy metal that is clean, but offers a complex simplicity within each chord.
01. I, The Jury (4:14)
02. Hammer Of The North (5:24)
03. Black Sails (5:26)
04. Mountain Be My Throne (3:44)
05. Northern Star (4:20)
06. Lord Of Lies (6:14)
07. At Midnight They’ll Get Wise (3:42)
08. Bond Of Blood (4:43)
09. Savage Tales (4:49)
10. Ravens Guide Our Way (6:04)
http://www.grandmagus.com/ / http://www.myspace.com/grandmagusrocks
Janne Christoffersson: Vocals, Guitar
Fox Skinner: Bass, Vocals
Sebastian Seppola: Drums
Total: 8 / 10