Review Summary: Stand out at the Renaissance Fair
Power metal has an unfortunate stigma attached to it within the metal community. A lot it is earned through some bands lyrical concept, image, and over the top sound; 'cheesy' is probably the number one derogatory term for it. Admittedly just about the only place where some of these sounds are welcome is at a renaissance fair or during a playthrough of your favorite RPG. But is there anything inherently wrong with that? While power metal may never reach the atmospheric, aggressive, or compositional heights of other metal genres, there are still certain bands that have transcended power metal's shortcomings and stigmas to create classic works of pure METAL. Although I feel like Channing Freeman in his Taylor Swift review for saying this, if you let your personal bias of the genre prevent you from listening, then you are missing out.
Now on to Human Fortress's Defenders of the Crown
, the sophomore release from the band. This album is simply catchy, badass, and tons of fun. You cannot listen to this without experiencing feelings of happiness, triumph, and empowerment. There is no doubt in my mind that if you bumped this in the parking lot at your local medieval LARP event, you would be turning heads and getting all of the wenches.
Ultimately, Power metal as a genre is heavily reliant on the vocalist. What would Blind Guardian be without Hansi Kursh? Lost Horizon without Daniel Heiman? Similarly this album is carried through the timeless vocal performance of Jioti Pacharadis. That is not to say that the remaining instrumentation of the album is not up to snuff on Defenders of the Crown. It is quite the contrary; rather, the surrounding music is seamlessly integrated with the vocals to accentuate their power. It is no wonder that the vocals are highest in the mix. Not to mention that Jioti manages to pull of the most uniquely great performances of the entire genre. Typically the chorus is the catchiest part of your standard power metal song. What makes this album stand out is that not only are the bombastic choruses absurdly catchy, but practically every single verse is also disgustingly alluring. The vocal melodies created by Jioti are nothing short of perfection and cannot be praised enough.
Defenders of the Crown
manages to consistently churn out highlight after highlight, anthem after anthem. If power metal had a Billboard 100 this would have multiple top singles. Whether it is the soaring chorus backed by acoustic guitars in the aptly named “Siege Tower”, the throwback-to-Iron Maiden-esque riff in the middle of“Holy Grail Mine”, the incredible vocal melodies in “Defenders of the Crown” and “Gladiator of Rome”, or the face melting solo of “Mortal Sinful Wrath” there is literally never a dull moment from start to finish.
If you love M/etal through and through, get this album. I prefer black and death metal, but there a few power metal classics that keep me coming back, and Defenders of the Crown
is one of them.