The intro track starts things off with the sound of swords in battle and an orchestral choir chant, as any good battle-centric album should do, but it's quick to kick-assery with the segue into "Rise To Power". The song, as well as the rest of the album, instantly screams "put me on full blast while you play some epic fantasy battle game!" The feeling only intensifies with the second track, and after that it's just confirming what you already know: this album is fuckin' excellent.
But beyond just earning the genre classification of "Epic Power/Melodic Death Metal", these guys are absolutely insane. The harsh Death growl stylings of Jimi Maltais meld together with the clean Power vocals of Greg Rounding and Morgan Rider, completely free of any awkwardness transitioning between the two opposites. The clean vocals shine in "A Gathering of Kings" with some serious power behind the melodies. Rounding and Ryan Hofing start to show what they're really capable of with their guitar battles in "Maiden's Call", continuing into "Braving the Storm" with a war against Cory Hofing on drums for speed and accuracy. I can't even keep up with what Cory's doing. He is absolutely relentless as always, blasting out beats faster than you know what's happening.
Track 7: "On the Eve of Battle" is a nice little interlude for the onslaught that is the closing argument of this album, acoustically echoing previous songs and fading into the fury that is "Freedom and Salvation". This one I vaguely remember seeing at the CD release, I think, I'm pretty sure yes and it was awesome. It might be the strongest song in this collection. Gratuitous galloping, elaborate guitar work, and a catchy singalong chorus, with a phenomenal drum groove and guitar solo over a solid backing foundation through the bridge. You can't go wrong with that. And I can't get over the insanity of the blasts in the next track at 3:33.
Kings Among Men ends with a long song in "Moonlit Skies and Bloody Tides". Not one of those annoyingly lengthy wankerings of some "epic metal" bands, thanks entirely to the varying moods contained within its 10 minutes. Following the subject matter in the lyrics, it goes from being victorious and arrogant, to crushed and still fighting, to washing away in the wreckage. #8 might be the strongest (in my opinion), but #10 is definitely my favourite track.
My top tracks: 3: Heroes Among Us, 5: Maiden's Call, 8: Freedom and Salvation, 10: Moonlit Skies and Bloody Tides
Hometown heartstrings were tugged at severely when I saw the name Dan Foote in the thank yous. I've known Dan since I started going to see live music regularly, 11 years ago. He put on most of the shows, played in a good chunk of them with his band (NonExistent), and is a huge part of why I love metal. It's always awesome to see him get some recognition. I wanna thank Dan Foote as well for just being an amazing human being. And, you know, all the music promotion and whatnot, letting me in for free how many times, making high school bearable and all that garbage. Sorry I never got around to having you guys play in my backyard this summer. We'll try for next year! Neighbours will be piiiissed. But anyway...
Dan photobombing a terrible picture of me and the singer from the Flatliners
(Sept. 2007 @ the Boh, Belleville, ON)
If Ensiferum and Dragonforce had a lovechild, it would probably be Crimson Shadows. They found a way to reach high levels of cheese while still being heavy as hell, and man are they ever doing awesome things with it. It's no wonder they've always had a loyal fanbase, which had been steadily growing over the years but seems to have exploded in passionate numbers recently, something this nearly 9-year-old band has earned and most definitely deserves. If you don't have a copy of this yet, GET TO IT! And if you're in Europe, they're currently on their first European tour so check them out if they stop near you.
Trust me, you will not regret it.