As Sweden becomes the epicentre for modern heavy metal bands it seems that everyone wants to be donning denim and digging out their vinyl. Long running Grand Magus have being making a quite gradual transformation from their ‘stoner’ doom routes into typical swords and shields heavy metal with ‘Triumph And Power.’
If that album title proves too subtle, Grand Magus have unashamedly (and quite rightly so) gone all out Manowar worship with this offering. ‘Fight’ and ‘Dominator’ are two song titles that pretty much sum up what JB Christoffersson and co. are looking to achieve with more emphasis than ever on the might of metal.
The fantastically titled opener ‘On Hooves Of Gold’ is the exact statement of intent they want to make with a medieval sounding intro going into a very chuggy riff that will please certain new fans.
However, this use of minimalist chugging is the main problem on ‘Triumph And Power’, with the basic formula becoming absolute overkill before the album even reaches track four. Lead single ‘Steel Versus Steel’ is one of the worst examples of this with a band that’s known for their riffs demonstrating a lack of imagination.
This dominates the album and although things pick up occasionally on ‘The Naked And The Dead,’ which at least carries a bit more pace, this is certainly something that will not appeal to those who regularly listen to the bands Magus are paying homage to. Ironically for an album which looks to demonstrate more power, this material just doesn’t hold a candle to the instant impact made with ‘Like The Oar Strikes The Water’ and other past greats.
Two instrumental ditties towards the end of the album break things up a little and actually prove among the main highlights. ‘Ymer’ contains an atmosphere that is particularly refreshing and helps build up to another one of the album’s better songs ‘The Hammer Will Bite’.
One thing that can always be relied on with these Swedes is the soulful vocals of JB which are as rewarding and embracing as ever. His performance doesn’t wane at any point during ‘Triumph And Power’ and begs the question as to why the other instruments couldn’t be executed to the same standard.
There is no avoiding that this is the least impressive work Grand Magus have put out. Their heart is clearly in the right place and less picky fans may be able to get some enjoyment from this but for the majority it misses the point of what made their music so enticing.
Scribed by: Alex Varley