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Thursday 6 February 2014

Reviews: Grand Magus, Mayan, The Vintage Caravan

Grand Magus: Triumph And Power (Nuclear Blast)

J.B, Fox and Ludwig together they are the trad metal tour-de-force that is Grand Magus. Triumph And Power is their seventh album and their fourth since they moved away from their doom direction to play leather studded metal. So will this seventh album give you anything different? In a word; no but what it does do is prove once more that Grand Magus are one of the finest metal bands to come out of Sweden ever, Triumph and Will much stronger than The Hunt bringing the Heavy Metal pomp and circumstance that was on Iron Will with the marching, fist pumping On Hooves Of Gold starting things off in epic style before the heavy battle metal feel of Steel Versus Steel keeps the warrior style going. You will never get a love song from Grand Magus but who cares with songs about Vikings (Holmgang), war (the doomy Fight) and everything in between (so long as it can make Chuck Norris weep). This is an album that will make your beard grow without warning, with the title track being the bands rally to arms (and a future set closer, mark my words) Again Grand Magus are the heaviest three piece around with Fox and Ludwig's rhythm and percussion sounding like the drums on distant longboat and J.B's guitars cut like a broadsword and his voice calls to Valhalla. The album is well split with two instrumentals the acoustic Arb and the atmospheric Ymer which is an intro to the truly epic The Hammer Will Bite. yet again Grand Magus have done it again creating 11 tracks of metal so true it would beat Manowar in a lie detector test! All I can say is roll on Hammerfest as I can't wait to see these songs in the live arena and bask in The Triumph And Power!! 10/10

Mayan: Antagonise (Nuclear Blast)

Mayan (or MaYan) is the project of former After Forever keyboardist Jack Driessen, death metal guitarist Frank Schiphorst and former After Forever/Epica founder Mark Jansen, the first album Quarterpast was released in 2011 and mixed the AF members symphonic metal past with a death metal bite. The album was a collaborative effort featuring many guest vocalists and Sanders Gommans. This second album ups the ante again as it still has the operatic symphonic death metal approach of the debut and guest vocalists Floor Jansen (Ex AF, current ReVamp and Nightwish singer) and Marcela Bovio (Stream Of Passion) both contributing. However something’s have changed as now the band has more stable line up with the grunts and screams coming from Jansen, as well as Henning Basse (ex-Metallum) providing the clean vocals (also can I put Basse's name forward as the new Firewind singer) and Laura Macri being the major female soprano on the album. This three prong attack gives the band the sound of a more aggressive Amaranthe, mixed with the metal opera delivery of Avantasia and the brutality of bands like Deicide. The lyrical content too has become more poisonous as the band use this album to put across their ideas on the Edward Snowden issue and makes the link between the current National Security crisis in America and the visions of George Orwell. With all this going into the album the music needs to reflect the weighty nature of the lyrics and it does, the opening bonus track sets the scene by providing a movie-like orchestral intro to the album that explodes into furious death metal, the pace is kept high throughout with the amazing drumming of Arien Van Weesenbeck who destroys throughout the album blast beating like machine gun on every track and when mixed with the riffage, the keys and vocal trifecta it all comes together as a brutal but melodic assault that only really lets up on the acoustic/operatic Insano which is followed by perhaps the album's heaviest track Human Sacrifice. If you like your metal heavy, violent but full of melody and technical prowess then you won't get better than Antagonise. Stick it on, let it sink in and enjoy the brutality! 9/10       

The Vintage Caravan: Voyage (Nuclear Blast)

Hailing from Reykjavik The Vintage Caravan play fuzzy, hard rock that has been influenced by the band's parent’s record collection and perhaps some medicinal cigarettes. The band are a three piece that play garage rock that has is influenced by Cream, Hendrix and been brought back to life with bands like FreeFall, Wolfmother and Rival Sons. The album straddles many genres with Let Me Be being a propulsive rocker that explodes into a killer solo before returning with a nice bass intro for the final part, they have funk in the way of Expand Your Mind and even some bell bottom blues on Cocaine Sally. Oskar Logi Agustsson (the main writer) vocals are deep and resonant on the slower songs like the country-fied Do You Remember and his guitar playing is pretty good too cranking out the fuzzed-up riffs and electrified solos backed by the relentless one-two drumming of Gudjon Reynisson and the power line bass of Alexander Orn Numason. This long haired, hip shaking, mushroom taking psych rock from a band that are too young to write trippy psychedelia songs called Winterland which sounds like the Cream of Clapton, (sorry) and they really notch up the prog mysticism on The King's Voyage which is over 11 minutes plus and goes all Hawkwind in the middle ending the album with massive magical mystery tour before the finale of Psychedelic Mushroom Man which HAS to be a lost Zappa track. A very strong mind altering album from these Iceland natives and one that will see them turn into a band to watch. 8/10   

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