Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2020
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

All For One & All For The Quest! - 89%

Larry6990, March 25th, 2020
Written based on this version: 2020, Digital, Independent (Bandcamp)

This is the not the sort of release I expected to hear in 2020, but it is exactly the sort of release I both wanted and needed to hear. This year so far has been very thrash and death oriented, so I could do with some light-hearted melodic or symphonic power metal to brighten my day. However, I almost bit off more than I could chew with this little slice of utterly batshit majesty. I'll admit: the amazing artwork totally drew me in. It just so happens to be by my favourite artist ever, Larry Elmore, and does an excellent job of summing up what I think Holysword is all about: bringing us back to the early days of neo-classical fantasy power metal - where fi was lo and swords were made of magical steel. It's a good job Knights Of Vyria is only an EP because I don't think anyone else could stomach more than half an hour of this - though I'm definitely willing to be tested! Holysword is the work of dedicated Swedish bloke, Willehardt, a guest or two, and a drum machine that came right out of a shed in the '80s.

The most obvious point of division for this EP, other than the blatant 'Dungeons & Dragons' style fantasy storyline, is the production quality. Every comment I've heard has derided the low-tech mix and I think the naysayers are missing the point. The rough sound can't be anything other than intentional. Guitars are thin, drums are synthetic and low-grade, keyboards are treble-heavy and vocals sound like they were recorded in a cave 17 miles away from the rest. I fucking love this! It instantly planted a smile on my face within 5 seconds. Even though this timbre evokes a nostalgic time long gone, I really can't pinpoint another release that actually sounds quite like this. Gotta give Holysword credit for achieving a strange kind of tried-and-tested uniqueness. Despite the distant quality of the vocals, Willehardt does a surprisingly good job annunciating the lyrics - the broken English and slightly dodgy notes here and there only enhance the atmosphere.

If there's one word to sum up this release, it's 'charming'. I admire the shit out of everything the Swede has done here, including the storytelling aspect of the EP which is relatively intact. The opening track "All For The Quest" bursts out the speakers full of triumphant splendour; follow-up "Warpath Of The Holy Crusade" keeps the galloping energy up but introduces some darker harmonies; "Green Dragon" is the centric, mid-paced, hymnal anthem; "The Rune Sword Of Red Skies" kicks the tempo back up to the breakneck speed and vibe of the opener; then the finale "Altar Of Blood" covers a wide scope of speeds and moods to make for an appropriate climax. Sprinkled across the whole affair is suitably cheesy narration, unexpectedly impressive choral backing vocals, and some absolutely epic harpsichord work. I'm not even kidding, check out the opening riff to "Altar Of Blood" and tell me J.S. Bach wouldn't be shitting himself.

Of course, the star of the show is Willehardt himself and his phenomenal virtuosic guitar work. All leads and solos are fantastic and the rhythm guitar strumming is, at times, lightning-fast. Highlights of this EP include the immediately catchy chorus of "All For The Quest"; the grandiose synth-brass of "Green Dragon"; the baroque tendencies of "The Rune Sword..." and the pure hell-for-leather approach of "Warpath...". If you can get over yourself as a 'serious metalhead' and not be afraid to grin a little, then I highly recommend taking up a plastic sword & shield, going out to a castle in the woods and blasting this shit whilst posing like a trve knight of olde. Knights Of Vyria is charismatic, charming and fun as hell. You ain't gonna hear anything like this obscure gem for the rest of the year.