Gloryful: End Of The Night (Massacre)
German power metal group Gloryful have returned with the third album in their series of records charting the ongoing war between the characters introduced on their debut, it's the concept revolving around the Ocean Goddess Sedna and King Guerkin who leads the fight against her. However much like their two previous records you don't need to follow the thematic story of the record to enjoy it, this is modern power metal that sits in the same category as Orden Ogan or Powerwolf (who's Charles Greywolf takes the producer chair) they have powerful battle metal anthems such as Hail To The King and For Victory that come in quick succession but they also add the folk elements of countrymen Blind Guardian on End Of The Night which swaps the dual electrics for acoustics, mandolin and violin.
The band are great musicians the rhythm section of Daniel Pearl and Harmut Stoof rumble along with the pre-requisite power metal pace, flailing drumming and punching basslines are the norm on this record. While the guitars of Jens Basten and new boy Adrian Eric Weiss weave in and out in dual axe attack with solos galore but without the normal fret wankery that can infect the genre, it's all done with precision and to advance the song not detract from it.
This is high class power metal as I've said with particular focus being drawn by frontman Jonny La Bomba who has a unique vocal delivery that sets him apart in the genre on songs like the progressive On Fire and blazing This Means War his throaty rasp sits well with the music and gives the band a sound that is rare in power metal. End Of The Night continues the tradition of Gloryful producing excellent power metal that puts them near the top of the pile in what they do, it has anthem after anthem and gets your blood and your fists pumping. 9/10
Palace: Master Of The Universe (Frontiers)
Master Of The Universe is as cheesy as a large Brie, dipped in Stilton and served with a side order of Fondue. For frontman Michael Palace the 80's have clearly never ended as this record evokes the sound of Night Ranger, Bon Jovi, REO Speedwagon, Toto et al looking at the promo shots the band even look the part with stick-like frames, coiffured perms and skin tight trousers about all that's missing are scarves on the mic stands and teeth so shiny they can be seen from space.
On the back of this album though all of that could be in the future as these songs have been written for stadia, Palace himself has been an in-house writer and guitarist for Frontier records for some time working with AOR acts as First Signal, Kryptonite as well as legends such as Toby Hitchcock and Göran Edman of Yngwie Malmsteen and Karmakanic fame. So it's clear to see why this record is chock full of emotive ballads and hard rock anthems, this kind of music comes easy to Palace and his band make sure that the every song is full of big hooks.
The title track sounds like a lost Survivor song with the Tron-style keys and the massive chorus, the use of synths continues throughout the and on the fist pumping Cool Runnin' (not about a Jamaican bobsled team) the saunter in the background whereas on Man Behind The Gun they merge with the double tapped guitar soloing.
None of the song on this record are heavy yes they have guitars and solos but they are clean and much like Brits Def Leppard they are firmly in AOR camp with saccharine ballads such as Part Of Me and Rules Of The Game allowing Palace to show off his vocals matching with the pacier songs for pure bubblegum AOR deliciousness. Many of the heavier readership will loathe this record but if you love your music with a side order of Gouda then Master Of The Universe will definitely not be a Stinking Bishop. 7/10
Wretch: Wretch (Bad Omen Records)
Wretch was formed in 2013 by front-man/guitarist Karl Simon, out of the ashes of Indianapolis doom merchants The Gates Of Slumber, the band's name comes from the final TGoS record The Wretch. After this last record and the EP in 2013, bassist Jason McCash quit the group, sadly in 2014 McCash passed away Simon has used the debut Wretch record as a cathartic way of dealing with his friends death, Running Out Of Days is dedicated to Simon's lost friend and kicks you in the guts immediately.
Due to the circumstances surrounding the record the doom metal contained on this record is more raw lyrically than usual with the lyrics dealing with loss, addiction and burden hitting home more so than usual as the low and slow riffs bludgeon your ear drums. Simon's guitars maintain the fuzzy, reverbed tone for the entirety of the record as it changes pace between huge power chords and faster riffs, Bryce Clarke's bass aides perfectly slotting in like Simon's fallen comrade did throughout their TGoS tenure, with the riffage sorted the percussion is down to former TGoS drummers Chris Gordon and J.Clyde Paradis (now also sadly deceased) and both of them thunder behind the kit on this 7 track record.
In a marked difference to TGoS the songs on this record are truncated most not more than 5 minutes the only exception being Icebound clocking in as over 8, along with the a Judas Priest cover Winter, (from Rocka Rolla no less) the record also features two instrumentals that do well to break up the record. Wretch serves as a fitting tribute to Jason McCash and as a fierce new beginning for Karl Simon. 8/10