Review Summary: The power of the riff compels you!
If you’re into traditional metal, you are already familiar with Borrowed Time and Gatekeeper, two of the genre’s most successful modern bands. On Traveler, those bands’ charismatic vocalist, Jeane-Pierre Abboud, has teamed up with Matt Ries, who is entirely responsible for the songwriting on here, and the outcome is some fist-pumping, balls-out heavy metal. Granted, these guys are not here to reinvent the wheel, but their debut cannot be characterized as cheap copy either. For most of its duration, the Canadians’ debut is a speedy affair that brings to mind Iron Maiden and Judas Priest on steroids (Deaf Dealer too, for those of you who wish to dig deeper into the Canadian heavy metal scene). That means a strong sense of melody, galloping guitars like on “Up to You”, infectious guitar harmonies (“Starbreaker”), and some of the best twin-guitar you’ve heard this year. In addition, the guitar solos reveal some hard rock flair, reminiscent of the great Mark Reale and complement the riff-fest that Traveler
One surprising element here, that numerous modern metal bands tend to forget, is the audible bass which makes the sound fuller and deeper. In addition, their solid vocalist, JP Abboud, whose gruff, and not overall approach, brings to mind the great Jon Oliva, is also one of the reasons that make this album so enjoyable. Furthermore, the US metal touches, courtesy of Omen and Brocas Helm, provide an epic touch, which also gives Traveler
a genuine retro feeling. Towards the end of the album, the Canadians also show that they’re not a one-trick pony, when they slow things down and deliver the goods on the mid-paced, anthemic "Fallen Heroes”.
Granted, some of the songs prolong their stay and there’s nothing new under the sun on here. But, at the same time, Traveler
is consistent, full of great riffs and with a duration of 38 minutes, perfect for a beer or two. So, it remains to be seen whether these guys will stand the test of time, but for the time being, they have created one of the best traditional metal albums of the year.