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Pyramaze > Melancholy Beast > Reviews
Pyramaze - Melancholy Beast

Formiddable songs, needless reissue - 75%

gasmask_colostomy, December 15th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2017, CD, Inner Wound Recordings

For a band to reissue a much-praised debut album is no strange thing, yet for Pyramaze to put out Melancholy Beast shortly after 2017's Contingent - and especially in this manner - seems more than slightly odd. In the first place, the Danes’ most recent effort marked an even greater departure from the group’s roots than the preceding comeback album Disciples of the Sun, importing downtuned guitars and modern themes into the catchy power metal formula. Melancholy Beast, on the other hand, features fantasy lyrical topics partnering a much more traditional approach to Iced Earth's or Angra’s style of melodic playing and extended ideas. The most curious part of the reissue, however, is that little has been done to improve the experience of the album, tacking on a Japanese bonus track that was already available (if not widely so) and a 20-page booklet with song commentary from founding guitarist Michael Kammeyer, while the original production proved ample and needs little improvement here.

Of course, for fans that missed the introduction to Pyramaze’s world, this is certainly worth getting, since the epic scope of the guitar melodies on ‘Mighty Abyss’, the atmospheric heaviness of the title track, and the irresistible chorus of ‘Sleepy Hollow’ are unbearable absences in the collection of modern power metal connoisseurs. Lance King - the band’s original vocalist, who was sacked in 2006 - here proves that having just one guitarist is no penalty when soaring hooks dominate, though that doesn’t stop Kammeyer and keyboardist Jonah Weingarten playing a big part when the pace hots up, which it does for around a third of the time. Mostly though, mid-pace dominates and melodies fly past like dragons in the night, the atmosphere cutting a gloriously solemn figure not entirely realized by the cover art. 'The Wizard' may prove temptation enough for fans to get the album again, seeing as its triumphant chorus and vivid lyrics make it at least as strong as the album tracks, if also of a slightly different ilk.

My views on this debut are quite different from my verdict on the reissue, which is what my rating is focused on. No poor cuts and a worthy bonus track make Melancholy Beast a recommended purchase in the genre, though the bewilderment of Pyramaze actually renaming this Melancholy Beast 2.0 means that this reissue is very short of necessary.

Originally written (in slightly edited form) for Metalegion #3 -

The metallic lullabies of a new beast. - 91%

hells_unicorn, January 24th, 2011

If one took a survey for a phrase association with the year 2004 and the genre power metal, the two most common responses would probably be “excessive speed” or “AOR imitation”. While this wasn’t necessarily the absolute rule of every band at this point and time, the prominence of Dragonforce and Masterplan at the time, setting aside the massive increase in commercial exposure that came for both a few years later, should definitely not be played down. But amidst all of this stylistic evolution, and the rising tide of power/progressive hybrid acts like Pagan’s Mind and Communic, finding a straight up power metal album that wasn’t either lackluster of derivative was a chore.

Pyramaze could be seen as a 4th way in some respects, with regards to the power metal paradigm at this point, as they lay somewhere between the progressive tinged characteristics of the Pagan’s Mind crowd, and the orthodoxy of older USPM and traditional bands. The presence of microphone veteran Lance King is the most auspicious case of the latter category, as he brings a vocal persona that is heavily comparable to original Fates Warning front man John Arch, and coated with traces of Geoff Tate here and there. Combined with a balanced mixture of old styled riffing, straight up songwriting, and a few well placed time changes and atmospheric twists, “Melancholy Beast” provides a much needed reminder that power metal isn’t stagnant nor an attempt to compete with mainstream pop/rock.

As a whole, this album differs from the two that came after and doesn’t go the concept route, but instead offers up 9 fantasy-laden musical short stories of varying length, many of them paying homage to well known films and books. Unlike the prototypical European sound which is underscored by a sense of heroic triumph and optimism, this overarching character of this album is woeful and, at times, fatalistic. There is a sense of slowness and a dream-like aura that hangs over even the faster songs on here like “Forsaken Kingdom” and “Power Of Imagination”, painting over the chunky riffing and streaming double bass beats with a set of melancholy vocal melodies that sends chills down the spine. It’s a similar experience to that achieved on a few songs on Olympos Mons’ debut (which came out around the same time as this), only with even less Helloween influences.

This album pretty well excels at every avenue that it explores; expressing a sort of complex simplicity that entices the ears like a lullaby yet pounds them into submission like a club. This album’s musical take on Tim Burton’s dramatization of “Sleepy Hollow” and the long scale retelling of the 80s fantasy film “Legend” forge together heartfelt chorus themes with a thick, crunchy set of grooves that effectively reminisce the darker points of both movies. The token ballad “Until We Fade Away” offers a poignant keyboard and vocal performance that is hard not to break out the lighter to, even when you’re the only one in the room. Even the sub-1 minute prelude “The Nature Of Triumph” lends itself to an emotional reflection as Johan Weingarten splices simply ambient melodies and harpsichord lines together into a tight little mini-epic.

In the days of “Sonic Firestorm”, “Aeronautics” and “Enigmatic: The Calling”, this really did offer a fine alternative that incorporated some elements of all, yet stuck to its own way of doing things. It is held back a little bit by a mostly formulaic structure and a slight tendency at going a little longer on some of these songs than necessary, but it is barely noticeable. Although Pyramaze would hit their historic high point thus far with the follow up “Legend Of The Bone Carver”, “Melancholy Beast” is just barely behind it in terms of quality. Lance King definitely picks his projects well, and this is yet another fine example of why he’s lasted in this business a lot longer than most.

Originally submitted to ( on January 24, 2011.

PYRAMAZE 'Melancholy Beast' - 95%

HarleyAtMetalReview, November 17th, 2004

This may come off as being completely arrogant or cocky, but many consider me to be a metal guru of sorts and, for the most part, I would have to agree with them. Even the highest division of metal gods, however, are not knowledgable of every fact and therefore are entitled to slip up from time to time. Recent events have burdened me with a similar situation. One might believe that being the huge fan of Balance Of Power that I am and, for that matter, vocalist Lance King's long list of other projects, that it would have occurred to me that it was possible he had other collaborations up his sleeve that I was unaware of. (Here's where I let my gift get the best of me.) Well, apparently I have been listening to such a band for over a month now and never had a clue one that he was the voice behind, Pyramaze. And I paint myself devoted? Hmmmph! I am quite disappointed by this major oversight, so if you would please excuse me, I must now go and beat myself up over this.

Based primarily out of Denmark, Pyramaze (the combination of pyramid and maze) features members of Wuthering Heights, Aurora, and obviously Balance Of Power. Playing a unique brand of progressive power metal, the band's sound is a conglomerate of vintage Queensrÿche, mid era Fates Warning, and present day Edguy. With their debut offering Melancholy Beast, Pyramaze have forged a brilliant masterpiece that will surely demand massive recognition within the scene. Calling King's Nightmare Records home, the band sits comfortably in the company of Antithesis, Gemini, and Empyria, just to name a few.

With Melancholy Beast, melody takes center stage over technicality, as every last song is a memorable sing along that guarantees to have you pressing the repeat button and cranking it up to eleven. This is not to imply that the performances are at all rudimentary. Tracks like "The Journey", "Power Of Imagination", and "Mighty Abyss" all host dazzling musicianship with blazing keyboard and guitar riffs/solos. Drumming is bombastic and intense most of the way through, but it does let up occasionally and take a backseat to beautiful moments like the instrumental "Nature Of Triumph" and the stunning ballad "Until We Fade Away". Pieces such as these shine on their own without the need to be flashy.

Over the years Lance King has proved beyond a doubt that he is a vocalist to keep your ear on. Everything he touches seems to turn to gold and Pyramaze is no exception. Melancholy Beast is a fresh and bold power metal album that stands the chance to land a place on my Top Ten of 2004. Get your hands on this disc, now!