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Friday 9 December 2022

Reviews: Krilloan, Arrayan Path, ITsALIE, Pharm (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

Krilloan – Emperor Rising (Scarlet Records)

Krilloan's debut EP only came out in 2021 but my lord is it some classic power metal from the class of bands such as Blind Guardian, Helloween and Evertale. So Emperor Rising is deeply indebted to the German power metal scene, though the band themselves hail from Sweden, so of course when they sing about banners being held high on Fireborn, you can't help but think about the Swedish Templars Hammerfall. 

Bandleader Klas Holmgren locks into some rampaging gallops with co-guitarist Steve Brockmanm and bassist Marco Toba, the twin axe attack and unstoppable bass womp making you want to throw your fist in the air, as drummer Christoph Brandes blast for his life. With lyrics based around fantasy and warfare, Krilloan use much of the same folky, symphonic, cinematic elements as Blind Guardian on tracks such as the title track and the anthemic Break Of Dawn (Brothers In Arms) where Alex VanTrue shows off his Hansi Kürsch-like range. 

I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of this record, Krilloan's style isn't anything new but they nail that Teutonic power metal style. Featuring Matthias Graf (Evertale), Jack Reynolds (Battle Born) and Johan Karlsson (Evermore), it's a homage to the greats of the fantasy metal genre, but a splendid one. I expect big things from Krilloan in the future but they light the beacons with Emperor Rising. 8/10

Arrayan Path - Thus Always To Tyrants (Pitch Black Records)

Thus Always To Pirates is the 9th album from Cypriot metal band Arrayan Path and it's their first concept album where the songs all continue the story. Coming two years after their previous record Arrayan Path bring us the story of the King of Salamis, Evagoras, telling the story in chronological order. 

Now this isn't the same Salamis as the Greek one where the famous battle was held, this Salamis is the Cypriot one and Evagoras is a revered figure in the Cypriot history as a politician and this record tries to fit in as much of Evagoras' life as possible as frontman Nicholas Leptos puts it: "There will be Usurpers, there will be Persians, there will be Spartans, battles and sieges, there will be blood!"

So into the music and it's yet more epic power metal from Arrayan Path, big, sweeping orchestral/symphonic elements that bolster the galloping power metal style. Produced by Slava Selin, mixed/mastered by Simone Mularoni, both of them giving a solo as well, the record opens with Oh Dark Tears which rages along at light-speed, before it shifts into two more epic tracks in The Usurper and the cinematic, proggy The King's Aegis...They Came From the Taygetos Mountain

Like a lot of concept records there are some special guests with Gary Wehrkamp (Shadow Gallery), Paolo Viani (Warlord), Enzo Donnaruma (Enzo and the Glory Ensemble), Louis Syrimis (Zivanished, Infected Syren), Harrys Pari (Minus One) and lyre player Christina Polycarpou all adding their skills. With some Judas Priest on Crossing Over To Phoenicia, a bit of Helloween on In Salamis and even Candlemass-like doom on Raid Of The Achaemendis, Arrayan Path arrive again with more epic power metal, one of their countries' most valuable metal exports, Thus Always To Tyrants is strong exemplar of this. 8/10

IT'sALIE - Emosphere (ROAR Rock Of Angels Records)

Managed, co-produced and guided by Mat Sinner (Primal Fear/Sinner) IT'sALIE roll around with their second album and I'm kicking myself why I haven't heard of this band before. If the title of Emosphere puts you off then don't let it, as there are no floppy fringes and whiny lyrics here. What this Italian band do is hard hitting rock with a powerhouse vocalist. Singer Giorgia Colleluori, formed the and with drummer Camillo Colleluori, they released this debut album Lilith in 2020, with the band filled out by guitarist Raffaello Indri and bass player Simon Dredo, the kudos flying in for their style of shout along rock n roll and Giorgia's incredible vocals. 

With a similar power and range of Skunk Anansie's Skin or Heart's Ann Wilson, she brings the thunder on the choppy Breath Of Fire and the pumping Light Up while slipping into some Zeppelin blues on Undeniable and NWOBHM-like galloping on Unbroken. Her skill behind the mic is the key factor of this band, even bringing out a Pat Benatar in Heartbreaker. However it's not just Giorgia as IT'sALIE just write great songs that have some punchy rhythms and of course the obligatory firebrand soloing. 

It's a record that has a knack of turning out some superior rock tracks while towards the end of the album they re-write the formula a little as Promise brings some moodiness, Crowds is proggy, modern and drenched in synth and closer Million Years is a sturdy power ballad to end on. I didn't expect a lot from this album as I'd never heard of the band, however it's blown me away with some fantastic heavy rock. 9/10

Pharm - Vortex (Self Released)

Pitched as Hyper Stoner Rock, Canadian trio Pharm preceded this album with three singles (all of which feature on this album). It's been in the works since 2019 but has now finally seen the light of day and as Texans The Sword come to an end, this Kelowna, BC, band could easily slot into the void they will one inevitably leave. In their own blub they mention Sabbath, Rush and Mastodon, all of which I can hear, the latter on Orbiting The Vortex

However on riffers such as Tear At The Wall they remind me so much of The Sword that I found myself checking it was the right band. Tumbling drums and throbbing funk bass carry Embryo before it crashes into some dirty doom riffs, it's just part of the bands "aggressive progressive" approach as they incorporate mellotron, Hammond, theremin and other additions to the guitar/bass/drum format to create a much broader sound than many three pieces, focusing on the progressive side of their work while keeping things heavy and groovy too. 

They work through their prog credentials on Acolyte, a previous single that is driven by Hammond, the organ reappearing on the frenzied riff-fest Conqueror, but there's so much going on here you may miss it. The drum build of Tear At The Wall, unleashing into some more grooving, fat riffs. That's where Pharm's strengths lay, their style of psych/stoner music is very progressive, the main bulk pierced by little intermezzo of weirdness like when Rat Milk Pt. 1 segues into the fuzzy Crystal Ships, which reminds me of Ozzy's Perry Mason as Six takes from Astronomy Domine, or the electronica of The Time Borrower Pt. 1 into the swirling Orbiting The Vortex. There are influences galore on this record but it is a uniquely Pharm record. New to me but Vortex will be on repeat from here on out! 9/10  

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