Review Summary: Seriously, just look at the cover art. LOOK AT IT!
Everyone seems to be hopping aboard the gimmick train in metal. Why? I suppose bands are trying everything they can to be original. Sometimes, gimmicks work, such as pirate-themed metal band Alestorm, which bring catchy, fun new listens to the table. Others, such as Strapping Young Lad, use comedy in their lyrics while being as heavy as possible to crack a joke at stereotypical bull*** you see everywhere. The Grailknights, however, hopped aboard with their hero-themed band. And they fall flat on their f***ing face doing so, because there are so many things wrong with their album, Return to Castle Grailskull
, I don’t know where to start. Well, it’s more because I’m laughing too hard on how dumb the idea, performance, and execution is.
I guess we can start out on the genre. Obviously due to the theme, they are going to be epic sounding. And they are in a way, sort of like a really average, cliché power metal band. They also add death and screaming vocals everywhere. But here’s where everything goes downhill. The death vocals are average at best, and the screaming is pretty bad. However, the clean vocals are absolutely terrible. Most of the time the entire band sings together in choir fashion, which sounds like a good idea, as bands like Summoning and Symphony X successfully pull off, but it’s clear that none of the members of the band had previous vocal experience. Too bad (well in this case, thank God) catchiness is rare here. Simply, only the good lord can imagine what that sounds like until you’ve listened to this.
Instrument-wise, it’s just absolute balls. On top of the worst sounding guitar production I’ve ever heard from any band in the mid 2000s, which just sounds like the standard Metallica tinny, trebly guitar tone but with excess fuzz distortion added, they are absolutely horrible at playing their instruments. The most you’ll get out of the guitars are simple riffing, badly-harmonized leads, and tapping solos! By the way, you can forget about hearing any bass, because it’s mixed extremely low and is only heard when the guitars aren’t playing or when they’re doing those stupid harmonized leads I was talking about earlier. And I daresay the drummer of this band may be worse than Lars Ulrich. Don’t expect anything besides simple drumlines on here, because that’s all there is.
Well, maybe you’re thinking that the songs make up for the horrid lack of talent. Sorry guys, the songs are just plain awful. They do a terrible job trying to make it sound epic because the choice of notes for the leads just sucks, and the songs are extremely repetitive. Like DragonForce, they follow the intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-chorus-outro structure in most of their songs. Many of the riffs are just plain boring, which really kills the already bad songs, especially in the slower ones. These problems makes Return to Castle Grailskull
all the more unlistenable. And I didn’t even mention the lyrics yet. Here are the lyrics from the chorus of “Fight Until You Die,” which are, simply put, abhorrently bad:
Knights, fight until you die
On guitars we fly
Take the challenge, face the task
Swing the blade till you're the last
Knights, fight until you die
Raise your fist up high
Feel the pain, feel the thrill
Battle on, it's time to kill
So fight until you die
So to sum up how awful this album is, the production is bad for a 2006 epic metal album, the song structures could have been written by a 5 year old, no one can play their instrument adequately, the riffs are bland and boring, the leads are sloppy and poorly-executed, and the lyrics could have been plagiarized from some gaudy George Martin book. Please do the metal community and your ears a favor and never listen to this.