Review Summary: The Swedish trio add another exquisite heavy metal record to their discography.
Since the old-school heavy metal scene is currently experiencing the revival due to numerous enthralling records from both relatively new and veteran artists, the bar is set immensely high. Audrey Horne's Youngblood
and Satan's Life Sentence
led the charge for traditionalism in metal in 2013. Both these albums struck a perfect balance between melodicism and might, exelling in commanding songwriting coupled with sturdy musicianship. They also understandably gave Grand Magus a run for their money. This loveable Swedish power trio have been honing their position as prime traditional metal purveyors for years. Hammer of the North
(2010) was filled to the brim with fist-pumping anthems inspired primarily by Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, while its follow-up The Hunt
(2012) shifted the gears towards a better sequenced presentation that was a tad more ingrained in hard rock.
As is the case with many heavy metal bands utterly devoted to their style, the alterations on the trio's seventh album are subtle. Compared with its predecessor, Triumph and Power
is slightly heavier as it harkens back to the blazing glory of Hammer of the North
while still retaining a penchant for infectious vocal harmonies. Frontman Janne “JB” Christoffersson is in scintillating form, delivering a vivacious vocal performance that radiates with genuine passion and vitality. The instrumentation is equally formidable as JB's galloping, instantly memorable riffs are backed with the muscular rhythm section courtesy of bassist Fox Skinner and drummer Ludwig “Ludde” Witt.
The songwriting that propels Triumph and Power
is simultaneously hook-centric and ambitious, which results in the outfit's most balanced collection of songs to date. 'On Hooves Of Gold' delightfully sets the tone of the album with its mighty intro evolving into driving riffs and a sing-along chorus. The strength of 'Steel Versus Steel' lies in its simplicity and an undeniably powerful hook. Judas Priest-echoing 'Dominator' astounds with wondrously crafted harmonies, while 'Holmgång' and 'The Naked and the Dead' render the style of the trio into its leanest, most visceral incarnation. Only forlorn Viking-themed instrumentals 'Arv' and 'Ymer' needlessly tone down the unflagging energy of the remaining cuts.
Even though most metal outfits wallow in the themes of oppression and darkness these days, Grand Magus pride themselves on truly inspirational anthems. JB's heroic tales of overcoming adversities are laced with strong conviction and aplomb, proving that the uplifting qualities have its place in this genre as well. The straightforward title of the record, Triumph and Power
, is spot-on as it finely embodies the trio's warrior-like attitude and ongoing pursuit for excellence. Grand Magus are in a class by themselves, consistently churning out exemplary releases that place them amid the most coveted heavy metal artists working today. The group's power is commendable and the end result is nothing short of triumphant as their new outing clearly matches up to the output of the luminaries that have inspired it.