Grand Magus - Sword Songs review


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Band: Grand Magus
Album: Sword Songs
Release date: May 2016

01. Freja's Choice
02. Varangian
03. Forged In Iron - Crowned In Steel
04. Born For Battle (Black Dog Of Brocéliande)
05. Master Of The Land
06. Last One To Fall
07. Frost And Fire
08. Hugr
09. Everyday There's A Battle To Fight
10. In For The Kill [Digipak bonus]
11. Stormbringer [Deep Purple cover] [Digipak bonus]

Grand Magus's career has always been predicated on the recapitulation of longstanding metal tropes and, occasionally, the search for creative ways in which to achieve that. I'm typically unfazed by the band's obvious indebtedness to so many clichés, and I'd even call the stylistically pedestrian Triumph And Power my favorite Grand Magus work so far. Sword Songs follows similar formulas, though the album does introduce a few atypical elements from time to time.

By now, the majority of the band's doom/stoner elements have fallen by the wayside in favor of bold, driving heavy metal of the more traditional variety. We've heard the shift towards more classic techniques over the last couple of albums, but Triumph And Power's thicker production and more aggressive sound still preserved some sense of personality. Sword Songs carries Grand Magus slightly further down the path, and typically doesn't hit quite as hard as its predecessor. These songs occasionally border on Manowar-style power metal (looking at you, "Forged In Iron - Crowned In Steel"), but a few influences of the old Grand Magus remain in the form of some blocky, fuzzy riffs and occasionally ominous melodies.

Sword Songs has its fair share of saving graces, however, featuring more versatile riffing than most Grand Magus albums; the last minute or so of "Freja's Choice" easily ranks among the band's most inspiring and creative moments. The unusually foreboding and crushing "Master Of The Land" shows an oft-concealed side of Grand Magus, while the slightly magical "Every Day There's A Battle To Fight" hints at old epic doom.

Overall, it sounds as though the core of Grand Magus is slipping further and further into straightforward, tried-and-true heavy metal repetition, while the band tries to compensate by throwing some newer and more interesting ideas around the fringes. Some listeners may demand more from this veteran group, but I can say that I'm reasonably satisfied with the results. Sword Songs is also the shortest album in Grand Magus's catalogue, meaning that it least risks overstaying its welcome, and the more compact track list allows for less filler.

"Freja's Choice" and "Forged In Iron - Crowned In Steel" left hardly any impression on me upon my first listen, and I expected rather mundane things from this album, but with each repetition of Sword Songs the material more strongly endeared itself to me. I suppose that's the nature of these types of bands; the style and presence may be nothing new, but you can learn to like the individual songs and appreciate the albums on that basis alone. Grand Magus is not quite the "Master Of The Land," but Sword Songs sits comfortably in the middle of the band's discography, and it's quite likely that listeners will prefer this to the last few releases.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 4
Production: 7


Written on 06.05.2016 by I'm the reviewer, and that means my opinion is correct.


Comments: 3   Visited by: 183 users
07.05.2016 - 21:47
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
You lucky bastard, according to two MS news songs this must eb a damn killer album, I would be brave an jump ahead a time and say this is band best
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
08.05.2016 - 20:43
I haven't heard the full album yet, but the two released songs sound killer, following the trend of the previous album Triumph And Power which is my favorite so far.
This album is shaping up to be one of their best and I hope I'm right. Good review, I can agree on that. Although personally I'm suspecting to give a higher score.
14.05.2016 - 14:11
Enemy of Reality
This album is so good that even the bonus tracks are killer

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