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This band is utterly superb. I thought "Iron Will" was the pinnacle of strength coming from this awesome group, but I was dead-in-the-sand wrong, and that's a fantastic thing to admit, because this record crushes in its raw, meaty rampage of true metal destruction. Grand Magus' brand of heavy/doom metal is simplistic at its core, but only a handful of squads can match the honest integrity and passion they streamline right into the golden heart of their work. "Wolf's Return," released in 2005, makes the competition look like a bunch of wimpy children playing dodgeball. I mean, this is totally heavy and savage in its own remarkable little way; Grand Magus grabs you by the throat and dumps liters of awesomeness down your throat without apology. Right from the start, "Kingslayer" refuses to relent its catchy, mid-paced onslaught of metallic bliss.
The great thing about Grand Magus is the simplicity of everything they do. They take a few riffs, add some vocal patterns, mix up a chorus, throw in a guitar solo, circle back to the track, and donezo. Easy as heating up chicken nuggets after reading Pre-made Frozen Foods For Dummies. However, every facet of their sound—take "Iron Will" for instance—is valorously enamoring: the guitar work strikes hard through its mid-paced endeavors and traditional slabs of vintage heavy metal reframed in Grand Magus' own prisms; the percussion has total mastery over its beats; and the bass is forceful and demands you give it respect. JB Christoffersson's reputation again remains untarnished, and I think he sounds better here more than anything else; songs like "Nine" change the record's tempo significantly, yet he shifts his vocal chords to cater to the needs of the emotion-heavy anthem regardless. His voice is legendary.
The album surprisingly steps up during the thudding grace of "Blood Oath," another stellar anthem that's addictive, epic, and yields a rich chorus boasting the valor of the gods; a proclamation that has been rightfully earned, I may add. Then Grand Magus kicks up the aggression a bit with more steel-glazed odes of ironclad excellence throughout "Repay in Kind" and "Light Hater"; the three-hit combo of tunes they heave on the listener (not including the brief instrumentals glued between the aforementioned portions) after the title track is just outstanding. Everything they touch feels graceful and natural; even the tiny interludes which give the listener some room to take in the pure dominance make their mark.
Joy itself finds joy in Grand Magus' smoldering display of the doom/heavy metal treasure lurking within "Wolf's Return." It's a release that literally grabs the authentic roots of heavy metal and condenses its habitual fundamentals into an amazingly digestible and glorious effort; Grand Magus seems to have no identity issues or noticeable declines in content throughout their stellar discography. Alas, "Wolf's Return" is an opus that doesn't flaunt otherworldly technicality or dazzling instrumentation, but once you hear it, you'll realize why Grand Magus resorts to keeping things on the simpler side of the spectrum. If you're looking for one band that understands the true essence of metal, look no further than Grand Magus and especially "Wolf's Return."
This review was written for: www.Thrashpit.com
My response to this album probably isn't too different from most people's; the opening riff of Kingslayer comes on and it sounds [i]sweet[/i]; huge riff and some manliest-man-ever vocals from whoever's singing. You'll start nodding or pumping your fist, "Yeah, this is real metal!" or something like that. That song ends, and before you know it- almost against your will, you're at the end of the album and wondering where the rest went.
Possibly it's because Kingslayer is the only one that really keeps that wrecking ball momentum going; things really fall down when the tempo goes south. Certainly the faster few songs here are the best; "Blood Oath" is a great track, with a main riff that is possibly the most cliched heavy metal riff ever- but in this context (well, in any context really) it sounds pretty freaking awesome, especially with the vocals howling over the top. You could liken this album to riding a bicycle; when there's plenty of momentum it's fun and you'll be loving it; the riffs are great; some sort of Sabbath-Maiden type hybrid, the whole sound a very classy, very heavy and capable take on vintage, pre-thrash stuff. Slow it down, however, and things get wonky and a lot less fun. Unfortunately, most of this album is about slogging it up hills in a low gear then cruising around effortlessly.
Really, stuff like "Nine" and "Ashes" is rather boring doom-y stuff that doesn't really achieve anything. It doesn't deliver enough of that huge doom crunch to sound suitable heavy; instead lacking, well, everything. There's no real heft, just a weary sort of slow/mid-tempo plod which leaves you standing there, perhaps scratching your balls or having a stretch, going "man I hope this picks up again". Sorry guys, it doesn't really. Some parts are ok; "Repay in Kind" has a pretty decent chorus, I guess, but overall this album's rather boring. Not awful, just rather forgettable; with the exception of "Kingslayer" and "Blood Oath", which are pretty rad tunes. There's a lot of stuff like this out there these days that's a lot better; don't waste your money on this.
I was first introduced to Grand Magus via the album Monument, which I think is a great album. So, this album came out and I was expecting more of the same, and what I get is something really, really obnoxious. That's what this album does for me. It annoys me. Here's some reasons why I do not like this album.
First reason would be the power metalness of it. It doesn't sound remotely like doom. It just sounds like generic power rock, not even power metal, power rock. If you listen to their two earlier albums, you can hear the doom in it. Hell, Monument almost sounds like a Goatsnake album, but this one, this new one is pure cheese. The riffs are generic for 1988, and when it does go doom (which is always short) none of it is impressive or catchy. It's just bland. It disappoints me that a good band would change their fomula to something boring like this.
Which brings me to point number two; it's boring. Plain and simple. It's just boring. It took me 6 listens to even get through the whole album in one setting because I just got tired of it after the third or fourth song every time. It's not just the riffs, either. His voice bores me. It reminds me of sitting in school and listening to someone drivel on about nonsense. There was passion in it on the previous albums. Now it sounds like they're just trying to make a buck. The only atmosphere this album creates is one of watching a clock tick tock the day away. Sheer boredom
My final point on why I do not like this album is because people actually claim this is great doom metal. This isn't even doom at all. Just because a band plays a slow riff doesn't make it doom. This is not doom. I don't know where Grand Magus went wrong, but the fact that they themselves and their fans claim this is doom astounds me. Had this album been presented to me as "This is Grand Magus going in a different direction" maybe I would have...No, I still would have hated it because I hate this kind of stuff, but I wouldn't have been so harsh on it. This in no way sounds like Candlemass, or the Obsessed. I don't even know what to call it other than garbage.
The album gets a generous 48% for me because the production is stellar, and that's the only thing I liked about it.
So I read about this band on another site, and they sounded like something I'd enjoy...not to mention the overly positive feedback they get all over the place. This is heavy, old school style Doom Metal mixed with some seriously heavy riffs that will make you bang your head. The bass is nice and crunchy and the vocals, courtesy of one JB Christofferson, are deep, emotive, and gruff. Perfect fit for the music here. The other two reviews are spot on, but I had to add another one to re-inforce a few things, go into detail a bit.
Opener "Kingslayer" is a blazing exercise in true heavy metal in the style of the great 80s bands---raw, stripped down, and heavy as fuck. The vocal preformance is amazing, too, adding even more power to the song. Crank this badass up! But Grand Magus hasn't shot their load yet, as "Nine" is every bit as cool as the opener. It's a more midpaced and slightly oriental sounding track, with some very cool vocal melodies reminding me of Ozzy Osbourne's preformances on the early Black Sabbath songs. And the rest of the tracks follow suit, all of them are great---even the little instrumentals placed cleverly in between the metal here.
The title track is doom all the way, and while I wanted more tracks like "Kingslayer", I still like this a whole lot. Very doomy and plodding, reminds me quite a lot of Candlemass. Good stuff. But "Blood Oath" is even better, with it's aggressive riffing and vocal preformance, much like the opener, except it sounds way more like Candlemass. And is that a shoutalong chorus I hear there?
I hate to go into reviews of every track, but "Repay to Kind" absolutely slays, the longest song here at 5 minutes (short for a doom band...). "I'VE BEEN RELEASED! I'VE BEEN UNLEASHED!" And those heavy as hell riffs, too. This is what metal is about; songs like this. This embodies the heart and soul of stripped down and raw heavy metal like no other band has done since the 80s. It's hard to pick favorites on discs like this, but I have to say "Repay to Kind" is the best song here by a slight margin.
The interludes are very good too, and I never feel like skipping them at all. They only enhance the quality of the disc, and without them I don't think it'd be as good. I've never heard an album like that; where the interludes aren't just put in there as space wasters and fillers. These are cool, very meaningful, and musically intricate, almost as good as the songs themselves.
This disc is really short though. With doom metal, one thing you grow to expect is long, monolithic songs and a running time that's longer than 40 minutes, neither of which this album has. It's short and you can replay it all afternoon, but with material like "Kingslayer", "Blood Oath", and "Repay in Kind", I would've wanted a few more songs on here, and I might've even given the disc a perfect score if that had been the case.
But the quality of the music here is undeniable---this is heavy fucking metal the way it was meant to be played. Fans of Candlemass, Black Sabbath, Solitude Aeturnus, and surprisingly, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, will find much to enjoy here. Highly recommended!
JB and co. are back with the latest release entitled "Wolf's Return." Any and all doubts that this swedish trio couldn't pull off another stellar release can be put to rest the moment you press play. Grand Magus is an interesting musical outfit in that they do retain a central "doom" like theme within their music, and yet they never seem to rehash their old work. This isn't an easy task to accomplish when making music of any genre, metal or not. The first release had a strong hard-rock stoner edge to it, then Monument followed with some of the slowest,heaviest doom tunes I've ever heard in my life. And this brings me to Wolf's Return, just what the hell were these dudes going to do to top themselves. Well folks, they did and with flying colors. If you're familiar with Magus' old material, don't expect a clone of what has already been done. While still wearing their doom colors proudly, the sound in this record seems to lean more towards old school heavy metal with a magus tinge to it.
The opening track "Kingslayer" was a brilliant opener for this mega album and gives you a bit of insight as to what the listener is in for. The song gets heavy from the start with a steady double bass kick complimented by some heavy ass guitar riffs with a bass sound so thick you could chew it. Defenitley has the potential to be a new metal anthem for the ages.
"Nine" is the kind of song that catches you off guard a bit, but not in a bad way by any means. A unique riff is emplpyed,almosy middle eastern like,at the beginning of the song and just takes you from there. Possibly my second favourite track.
Without going into every single fucking song, I'll jump to the real highlight track, "Blood Oath." This is where magus pays tribute to the heavy metal acts of the 80s such as Saxon, Maiden, Priest and Sabbath as well. It's fast, intense and incredibly well written. This track also offers some insight into the true vocal ability of JB which is nothing short of astonishing.
So all in all, this album blew me away. It is very different from the old stuff so be prepared, keep an open mind and don't break your neck while head banging to these soon to be legendary tunes. HAIL GRAND MAGUS!