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Warlord - Free Spirit Soar review



Reviewer:
7.2

26 users:
7.04
Band: Warlord
Album: Free Spirit Soar
Style: Heavy metal, Power metal
Release date: May 2024


01. Behold A Pale Horse
02. The Rider
03. Conquerors
04. Worms Of The Earth
05. The Watchman
06. Free Spirit Soar
07. The Bell Tolls
08. Alarm
09. Twin
10. Revelevion XIX

Warlord has let Bill's Free Spirit Soar.

In case you didn't know, Warlord is a legendary US heavy metal band that formed back in 1980. Now, I assume that many consider their groundbreaking full-length debut And The Cannons Of Destruction Have Begun... (1984) to be the band's crowning achievement; however, it was the debut EP Deliver Us released the previous year that was to ignite the initial spark that set off what was to eventually become US power metal. This makes Warlord one of the main pioneers behind the genre we all know today.

Following the debut, Warlord went onto release a further two records, starting after a long hiatus with the worthy comeback Rising Out Of The Ashes (2002), which was then followed a hefty 11 years later by The Holy Empire. After a further 11-year absence, the band make a miraculous comeback yet again, this time to release their 4th album to date, Free Spirit Soar. This latest installment sees the only remaining original member, drummer Mark Zonder, joined by 5 fresh faces: Philip Bynoe (bass), Eric Juris (guitars), Jimmy Waldo (keyboards), Diego Pires (guitars), and Giles Lavery (vocals), 4 of whom joined the lineup last year. Now, after another long absence and a mostly fresh lineup in place, what is the outcome of this latest offering?

The band describes this album as a way in which to pay tribute to founding guitarist William J. Tsamis, who sadly passed away in 2021, featuring songs inspired by leftover material Bill had kept on old demos that the band considered more than worthy enough to follow up on. Free Spirit Soar is certainly a long album by heavy metal standards, 56 minutes in length across 10 tracks, but what matters in regard to that is consistency, something I'll start by saying that this album has. Something else this album has (and in abundance) is catchy songwriting, starting off evidently with the 7-minute opener "Behold A Pale Horse".

In the classic traditional heavy/US power combination, this song is as uplifting and energizing as it is epic, featuring melodic heavy riffs, epic synths and a few touches of classic instrumentation. One of the most striking features is the clear-cut modern standard production; long gone is the rough and ready sound of old. This could be considered both a good and bad thing; the clear bass presence is extraordinary, and all elements are placed superbly in the mix, but the drumming seems to lack a touch of power, while the guitar tone seems to hold back on meatiness. With the tempo often feeling a tad on the slow side, some of the music's impact has arguably been lost. Another element I'll mention is Giles Lavery’s vocals; the band members themselves have compared his style and performance to that of Michael Kiske, and fairly so, as there is a Helloween vibe going on at times.

The subsequent tracks on the album, in line with the opener, feature a balance of US power and epic heavy metal, with symphonic choir chants, epic-style synth work, classic-sounding melodic solos, catchy heavy-cum-galloping riffs, and memorable, soaring power metal-style choruses. However, the first track to really get my blood pumping and head bopping along with its rhythm is "Conquerors". Nothing about this track is original (reflecting the album as a whole in that respect), yet it's still joyously melodic and highly memorable.

Music-wise, the album is uplifting and catchy, but it's even more so lyrically, especially with the more power-orientated songs such as the sci-fi themed title track, but most of all the 7-minute closing song "Revelevion XIX", which is based on verses from the Book of Revelations. This might not be as epic nor as memorable as the opening track, but is still a more than fitting way to close the album off. I find one downside to the album being the fact it falls short towards the end, with the most memorable tracks coming in its first half.

Overall, I believe Warlord have achieved what they initially set out to do, which was to provide a worthy send-off for their late guitarist/songwriter. Here, they've not only gathered and introduced some of the best loose material written by Bill himself over the years, they've made a solid good record from it, and established a new impressive line-up and, hopefully, a new era in doing so.


Rating breakdown
Performance: 7
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 6
Production: 7





Written on 14.05.2024 by Feel free to share your views.


Comments

Comments: 3   Visited by: 59 users
15.05.2024 - 00:06
The Galactician
Excellent review. I am looking forward to checking it out as I enjoyed the singles.

I didn’t even know when I first heard them that Bill had passed. I think that is some testament to the fact that, at least to me, there’s still that Warlord sound. The fact that they leveraged demos and are calling it a tribute is a cool move.
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15.05.2024 - 06:31
Rating: 7
AndyMetalFreak
A Nice Guy
Contributor
Written by The Galactician on 15.05.2024 at 00:06

Excellent review. I am looking forward to checking it out as I enjoyed the singles.

I didn’t even know when I first heard them that Bill had passed. I think that is some testament to the fact that, at least to me, there’s still that Warlord sound. The fact that they leveraged demos and are calling it a tribute is a cool move.

Thanks very much, and I agree it's a very moving tribute to Bill.
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15.05.2024 - 15:16
Rating: 6
Duck Dodgers
Very solid as a release but feels weird releasing this as "Warlord".
Sounds more like Zonder milking Tsamis's legacy rather than anything else.
Great engineering, catchy songs, very pleasant...but this is not Warlord.
Best song for me is Twin, which is very catchy and gives Suomi rock vibes in the style of Sentenced.
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