Rumahoy: Time II Party (Napalm Records)
So Captain Yarrface (yep) is back along with his group of Argentinian pirates that from Rumahoy. Though the first song on this second album, Cowboys Of The Sea does add a little confusion comparing them to those Stetson wearing horse riding folks you'll find in a Sergio Leone Western. Now I'll admit now, the jokes that 'Pirate Metal' have worn a little thin but no one has seemed to tell Rumahoy who's folk metal style is blatantly over the top, as the fuse heavy riffs with squeeze boxes and faux Caribbean sounds. Captain Yarrface, who oddly, like the rest of the band wears a balaclava making them seem like a sort of goofy band fronted by members of the IRA, is very much the the leader of the band his gruff vocals carrying impossibly stupid songs such as Treasure Gun, Harambe, The Pirate Gorilla (very 2016) and Poop Deck Party (which has a fucking rap in it). Now I get it's a 'party music' but there's no substance here at all, juvenile jokes and simplistic folk metal tropes. Time II Party is basically a metal album if it came from the writers of Spongebob Squarepants. Am I miserable bastard? Yes. I don't care. This is dire. 3/10
The Lightbringer Of Sweden: Rise Of The Beast (Self Released)
Lars Eng founded The Lightbringer Of Sweden in back in 2017 he started it with the intention of emulating his influences such as Tobias Sammet, Kai Hansen and Adrian Smith. He tapped Wolf's vocalist Niklas Stålvind to sing on the record he was writing however Niklas turned out to be a bit too busy to contribute to the album so Eng hit up Avantasia and Firewind singer Herbie Langhans to give his vocals to the single Skeletor and then it was decided he'd sing on the whole album. So to the album and it tells the story of The Lightbringer (The Devil) and his right hand Skeletor in their war with the angels.
It's power metal with a speed metal thrust and some thrashier tones that does put you in mind of Tobias Sammet's and Kai Hansen's projects, from the opening riff fest of Fallen Angels through the big single Skeletor and big ballads like Heaven Has Fallen it ticks all the boxes for a heavier style of power metal, the songs have been skillfully written, produced and performed by Eng along with a supporting cast of Tobbe Jonsson (drums) Henrik Bergqvist (bass), Jonas Andersson (Lead Guitar) and some additional solos from Niklas Dahlin on Heaven Has Fallen & Shadows Of The Night.
The real trump card though is getting Langhans on vocals though, as I feel he does these songs more justice than Stålvind could have, his soulful delivery very similar to the bands that have influenced Eng. Yes he's not Swedish but his vocals are ideal for this style of music even on One By One which does rip off Swedish rockers Europe quite liberally. A great metal album that has been a while in production, Eng understands the genre well and has written songs on this album that any power/heavy metal fan will enjoy. 7/10
Kaiser Franz Josef: III (Sony/Colombia)
Just in case you don't know Franz Josef was Austrian/Hungarian Emperor between 18 August 1830 – 21 November 1916, he suffered numerous hardships namely the execution of his brother, the Emperor Maximilian of Mexico in 1867, the suicide of his only son and heir-apparent, Crown Prince Rudolf, in 1889, the assassination of his wife, Empress Elisabeth ("Sisi"), in 1898, and the assassination of his nephew and heir-presumptive, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, (which was one of the factors that led to WWI). Kaiser Franz Josef (KJF) the band also hail from Austria, Vienna to be exact but they certainly won't be starting any wars as they play a laid back style of bluesy stoner rock with a hip shaking swagger on tracks such as Strip My Soul and funky QOTSA thump on Epitaph. Their music is characterized by some fuzzy bass and guitars from Pete (bass) and Sham (guitar) who bring the riffs for Tom (drums) to underscore with some percussive propulsion. Now I mentioned QOTSA and they are the major influence here along with a bit of Soundgarden for good measure but if you listen to songs such as Overdue it's got that stylish Josh Homme influence all over it. A rocking third album from this Austrian trio with some big riffs. 7/10
Pinnacle Point: Symphony Of Mind (Escape Music)
Formed in 2016 by two songwriters Jerome Mazza (Ex-Angelica) and Torben Enevoldsen (Fate, Acacia Avenue, Section A ), Pinnacle Of Power were formed to fuse classic hard rock and progressive rock, but there's much more here, Pinnacle Point have the pomp of AOR running through this album from the anthemic instrumental Ascent To The Point until the final number Dangerous Times the record has a huge musical chops to it but always maintains that sense of spectacle. With Torben Enevoldsen's virtuosic guitars and Jerome's vocals soaring in a similar style to that of Journey's Steve Perry or Kansas' Steve Walsh.
Now it's Kansas that Pinnacle Point owe the biggest debt to especially those glory days of Steve Walsh fronting the prog/pomp rockers especially because of the presence of violinist Valeria Pozharitskaya, who really adds to the massive AOR sound present on this album, most notably on the gloriously grandiose Hero. Drummer Mark Prator and bassist Takeaki Itoh give the grooves on Weight Of The World which also has lots of lovely violin as does In The Wake Of Hope. For the added melodies pianist John F. Rodgers and keyboardist/synth player Howard Helm give you big those shimmering summer waves on tracks such as Never Surrender. Yes Pinnacle Point do sound an awful lot like Kansas (In The Wake Of Hope), but they do have their own style too thankfully.
If the release of a new, excellent, Kansas album earlier this month has got you wanting more like this then I suggest investing in Symphony Of Mind as it is an obvious counterpart to the originators. 8/10