|Review: Grand Magus - Sword Songs|
Label: Nuclear Blast
Year released: 2016
Genre: Heavy Metal
Review online: May 18, 2016
Reviewed by: Bruno Medeiros
Rated 4/5 (80%) (17 Votes)
Being a fan of these guys for about a decade now, I was excited to hear what the Swedish pagans had reserved for us in their new adventure, Sword Songs, as their last entry, Triumph and Power, was somewhat lackluster and kind of flat compared to their better albums.
Sword Songs is a very, very regular album. This is the best adjective I could find to describe it, and being regular can mean that the album is either really good or really bad all the way till the end. Luckily, it's not bad, but unfortunately is not a masterpiece. I kept waiting for the album to sweep me off my feet with a glorious riff, master-crafted chorus or a mesmerizing atmosphere, but instead JB Christofferson and company delivered a somewhat flat – but nevertheless solid – album with no ups and downs, no climax. This rarely happens, as symmetric regularity is almost impossible to achieve, but don't get me wrong, in this case it is actually motive for praise. While not presenting us with a masterpiece such as Iron Will – or even as good as Monument or The Hunt – Grand Magus did deliver yet another quality album. It starts in "Freja's Choice", a mid-paced tune with cool riffs, double-pedal drumming and equally cool chorus. "Varangian" takes the mid-paced approach (used throughout the whole album) and adds a groovy sound to the work. Allied to a sing-along chorus and good performance by JB, this makes for one of the best songs here, alongside "Hugr" (instrumental) and "Everyday There's a Battle to Fight", which closes the album. "Forged in Iron - Crowned in Steel", "Born for Battle (Black Dog of Brocéliande)" and "Master of the Land" team up to keep the album in that regular fashion mentioned earlier, with some similarities between each other. While not one actually stands out from the others, they all have their place, each with their own construction and nuances. "Last One to Fall" is the most energetic song of the album, with a constant pounding and a groovy atmosphere once again, with special attention to the chorus; simple but powerful. The band members are all at their best here, and every instrument is audible. "Frost and Fire" is the weakest of the bunch, and although fun at first, after a few listens you may discard this as a filler.
So, Sword Songs is good, and that's all. What we see here is just a band completely at ease doing their thing. Like I said earlier, this is a regular effort. Professional, but hardly passionate, it doesn't have wonderfully crafted songwriting or a stellar moment, but will keep hardcore fans of the band around, and maybe gather a few more in their ranks. It sometimes seems that they are playing on auto mode, mainly because everything flows easily in their sound, and the production is rather raw, which results in the aforementioned flatness, but it is nevertheless a solid output.
|Other related information on the site|
|Review: Grand Magus (reviewed by Michel Renaud)|
Review: Iron Will (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Monument (reviewed by Adam Kohrman)
Review: Sword Songs (reviewed by MetalMike)
Review: The Hunt (reviewed by MetalMike)
Review: Triumph and Power (reviewed by MetalMike)
Review: Triumph and Power (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Wolf's Return (reviewed by 4th Horseman)
Review: Wolf's Return (reviewed by Lars Christiansen)
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Video: Swords of the Ocean (Live)
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