A band like GRAND MAGUS is not easy to pin down in terms of classification. One minute they’re playing what sounds like Doom Metal, the next it’s your standard NWOBHM fare. This is my first time giving them a listen, even though I’m told they are on album number seven with this latest offering Triumph and Power, out February 4 via Nuclear Blast Records. As a first-timer I heard some things I really liked, and I can certainly see why they have a decent following. The musicianship is solid, the lyrical themes are of the usual Vikings, sword fighting and blood running variety, and it makes for a good listen.
Things get off to a slower, more deliberate start with “On Hooves of Gold” before delving into classic JUDAS PRIEST territory on “Steel Versus Steel” and “Fight”. If you listen closely you can hear “Green Manalishi” in there somewhere, not that that’s a bad thing. The title track is more of a battle march that takes place on the way to the big fight, the armies reminding themselves that to die in combat is honorable. The mid-tempo “Dominator” was definitely a favorite as soon as I heard those chugga-chugga riffs I love so much, and after several listens it still is, especially the last 1:21 where everything hits the fan.
Group chanting sets the ominous tone for “Holmgång” at the start but then it veers off into more of a rocker, while “The Naked and the Dead” is not only one of the faster cuts on the disc, it is one of the best. Closer “The Hammer Will Bite” is the obligatory epic number one would expect on this type of album, and even though it’s nearly seven minutes it moves well and doesn’t feel like it. That’s another thing, with only eight full songs and two brief interludes Triumph and Power goes by rather quickly, and I did find myself saying, “That’s it?” every time the album came to an end.
Some have compared GRAND MAGUS to MANOWAR. I just don’t see it. Sure some of the imagery might be the same, but musically the two bands couldn’t be any more different to these ears. I think this band is just a slice of good old fashioned Heavy Metal pie, playing what they wanna play and making no apologies for it. And while this isn’t necessarily something I need to fire up on a daily basis, the guitar riffs alone certainly warrant a listen or two while drinking some beers on a Friday night.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Dominator”, “The Naked and the Dead”, “Fight”, “The Hammer Will Bite”