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Phenomenal and nearly without fail - 95%

MarsDragoner, July 30th, 2015

Guardians of Time is a power metal band hailing from Norway and active since the mid-late 1990's. They released three albums prior to Rage and Fire and I have to admit that, at least for me, they seemed like your standard run-of-the-mill power metal band. I was wrong. Very wrong. Guardians of Time play a rather aggressive but also melodic kind of power metal. After listening to this album I realized how many generic and half-hearted albums and projects there are in the branch of power metal. Yes, it's that good.

The album starts with a nice and simple build-up in form of an orchestral arrangement which transitions smoothly into the real opening track Iron Heart; and this is where the real fun begins. Crunchy guitars, fast drums and an excellently aggressive production pave the way for Rage and Fire. When I heard that track for the first time I just couldn't stop smiling and nodding my head (let alone my restless leg) while collecting strange looks during the bus ride heading home.

It's difficult to categorize or compare this band. The dudes have fun and there's so much energy in this album. Their approach reminded me of 3 Inches of Blood sometimes but that's probably the ballsy production. Guardians of Time are much more melodic, obviously, and take more parts from the European style of power metal than from the American but they still achieve a certain rawness (if you want to use this word in power metal). The songs achieve a great atmosphere (Empire gave me many Egyptian vibes) and are different enough to not get boring. The singer probably is what holds the band back a little. He's doing a good, if not very good job but he still seems kind of out of place sometimes and not really fits the aggressive style of music at some points.

Nonetheless it seems like everyone is giving everything and it's just powerful. There are just a few acoustic parts on the album, no ballads are to be found here. A wise decision as ballads would probably only hinder the flow and atmosphere of Rage and Fire. It's pretty easy to tell what is inside Rage and Fire just by looking at the name: cool guitar riffs, power, power and more power. The closing track with the same name concludes and summarizes the album very well, it's all there. A fast and guitar-driven piece accompanied by light orchestral arrangements and these special and fun vibes which were created all along while listening to this album.

This is high quality from start to finish, Rage and Fire is a nearly flawless collection of powerful and fun pieces. Not a bad song to be found anywhere and I just love the aggressive approach of the band. I went in with zero expectations but I'm honestly happy I checked that one out. No matter who you are or what you like, if you like metal music you're pretty much obliged to give this a spin.

Originally written for fetiddead.wordpress.com.

A rage to set the whole universe ablaze. - 98%

hells_unicorn, June 12th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, Digital, WormHoleDeath

Occasionally an album comes along that so purely embodies the spirit of its style that it barrels over the listener like an enraged, demonic/alien berserker during a meteor storm. This is the sort of an album that one would expect to come from a known quantity that has perfected their craft over a few albums, and maybe even an occasional exception being found with a debut fluke of sorts, but Norway's Guardians Of Time don't really fit into either category. They've been around for the better part of two decades and half three rock solid albums to their credit, yet they have largely been relegated to the fringes, not so much for any inaccessibility in their sound or a lack of talent, but more so due to an accident of timing mixed with a finicky audience. In their respective niche within the power metal style they have evolved a bit, starting as a prototypical all fast and catchy, all the time act with their debut Edge Of Tomorrow (fitting in nicely with the general trend of power metal circa 2001, but excelling at it better than most), and cycling through a two album concept series that saw them moderating the speed factor and later mixing in some slight melodeath and metalcore tendencies.

However, with the release of Rage And Fire, this band finds themselves getting back to basics, largely by revisiting their earlier selves and introducing a darker and heavier canvass that is somewhat reminiscent of Sinbreed and Mystic Prophecy. A fair amount of this can be credited to the mixing job provided by Fredrik Nordström, who has been a force to be reckoned with in power metal and melodic death circles for quite some time, but the foundation upon this album's glorious sound is the exact same winning formula that made Edge Of Tomorrow a spellbinding experience. The melodic contour and driving feel of this album is generally common to their entire repertoire, but is so well harnessed that it dwarfs everything the band has accomplished. It is generally fast and catchy, but also forbidding and aggressive, all the while being a fairly easy to follow collection of songs featuring the usual tricks of the trade, including flashy and complex guitar solos breaks reminiscent of early 2000s shred fiestas out of Henjo Richter (Gamma Ray) and Nils Norberg (Nocturnal Rites), and a vocal performance out of Bernt Fjellstad that spends most of its time in the upper stratosphere, but occasionally invokes a deeper character that's a bit less common in the style.

Not one to abandon the traditional pomp and grandeur of the power metal style, this album does supply a few epic elements to complement its mostly barbaric demeanor. The symphonic instrumental that incites this inferno "Praeludium in Ferrum Pectore" has some obvious cinematic film score tendencies to it that would definitely fit into a war film or a high fantasy/Sci-Fi epic, and segues perfectly into the bombastic first metallic blow of "Iron Heart". This song has all the makings of an instant power metal classic from the unforgettable back and forth vocals of the chorus, to the continual orchestral presence and pummeling battery of the rhythm section. Things take on a down tempo, grooving character with a greater emphasis on heaviness and a Mid-Eastern feel on "Empire", conjuring up vivid visuals of an ancient empire from thousands of year ago and coming the closest to a ballad on this unrelenting speeder of an album. Interestingly enough, the further this album goes, the faster and more vicious it becomes, dealing out high octane celebrations of power and fury in "Save Me", "Tomorrow Never Comes", "Primevil", and then landing on a monster of a closing title song in "Rage And Fire", which spends most of its time in the faster extremities of speedy power metal before launching into a massive blast beat section that dominates the closing moments of the song, breaking with what some would call power metal tradition a bit.

It is still a bit early in the year, but what Guardians Of Time have managed here is definitely album of the year material, both for their respective style and even in a broader metal context. It's actually a bit odd in that anyone that has followed this band to any extent will recognize who this is, and yet this isn't really the same band, it just crosses the boundary into a whole new territory. It finds itself going back to the earlier days of power metal in much the same respect that the recent outing by Emerald Sun did in terms of keeping things fast and catchy, but it doesn't have an outright retro flavor the way Metal Dome does, and is definitely much heavier. The only strike against this album is that it's all but fully one-dimensional, bereft of any nuance and hitting the listener over the head with a spiked club rather than coaxing his guard down with subtle intrigues, but it works so well that one finds himself not caring for anything it may lack in variety. If this album doesn't gain Guardians Of Time some greater degree of recognition in the power metal world, it will say more about what said scene has come to than anything regarding this band.