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Masterpiece - 100%

LURTZ28, August 18th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2013, CD, Steel Gallery Records

OK! That came out of nowhere. It was the first album I listened to from this terrific power / heavy band and it absolutely blew me away. Where have these guys been hiding all this time? How often can someone listen to an album containing 14 songs without even one filler?

Giannis Papadopoulos is, for sure, one of the best, if not the best, metal singers of his time. His powerful voice can reach the sky without losing a single note. He offers passionate renditions, expressing successfully the feeling of the lyrics, colors uniquely the songs and takes them to another level. I feel, with a total sense of what I'm writing, is that he is Rob Halford of his generation. Then, there is guitarist Kosta Vreto. Enormous riffs and incredible leads, which make you want to do air-guitaring, even in your sleep. It is even more exciting that he plays without a pick. He uses only his fingers. At last, there is the skillful rhythm section of Kostas Scandalis (bass) and Stergios Kourou (drums). Especially Kourou, thanks to his unparalleled technique, offers marvelous drumming that serves the songs, without showing off, though he could have done so easily.

Kourou is also responsible for most of the songwriting, along with ,Vreto. They follow a certain pattern in most songs, which is verse- prechorus - chorus - verse - chorus - solo - chorus. Duration do not go over 5 minutes with the exception of the metal hymn Lady Jane Grey. Catchy (and I mean this as an advantage) riffing and sing-along choruses are Wardrum's trademarks. Lyrics, written exclusively by Kourou, coming from his personal experience I assume, refer, mostly, to relationships that have ended and how someone must fight to fulfill his / her dreams against all difficulties, despite the obstacles that stand in the way. Scandalis, apart from being a great bass player, has done excellent work in producing, mixing and mastering the album. He has managed to bring out all the advantages of his bandmates - and there are plenty of them. All the instruments are heard loud and clear, as well as the wonderful voice of Papadopoulos.

In conclusion, Wardrum created a heavy metal album that does not stop to surprise, even when you reach the last song, and leaves you with a great silly smile on your face. If I have to distinguish some songs, I would have to say Lady Jane Grey, After Forever, Travel Far Away, The Messenger, Red Ruby Heart, Broken, Vengeance and Rebirth, but still I feel I'm being unfair. This is a true masterpiece, a jewel for every music collection.

Pretty great power metal. - 88%

Empyreal, July 17th, 2015

This is a pretty great album full of kick ass, straightforward power metal in the way you don't get all the time anymore. Picture wailing, aggressive vocal work, sharp, punchy riffing and choruses that are as catchy as they are belted out loud. This is basically just the meat and potatoes of power metal – done in a way that bands have been doing since Scanner peddled their wares back in the 80s, and modernized with touches of some newer bands. This deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as other great albums from the modern scene from Arrayan Path and Trail of Murder.

The songs are built on simple, chugging speed metal riffs like something you'd hear out of early Gamma Ray or 90s Helloween, and the production is thick, modern and clear, perfect for the sound. The vocals from Yannis Papadopoulos are easily the highlight – he has a high, aggressive and melodic wail that recalls Jonny Lindqvist's best work with Nocturnal Rites, and he seriously powers it out on every song. The vocal lines are immaculately done and the choruses and verses are powerful and addictive.

The album starts off with a set of fairly aggressive speedsters like “Shelter” and the title track, which are solid if not completely amazing – though the AOR “Lady Jane Gray” is kick ass, and sounds like something urban breed should have been singing over. But around the middle, the album really hits a stride, and powers out a set of like five kick ass songs in a row. “After Forever” is a classic riff-and-chorus burner, and it's followed up with the emotional “Looking Back,” the Painkiller-esque “Travel Far Away” with its shrieking, glass-shattering vocals and neck-breaking riffing and the melodic, cathartic blast of “Oceans.” “Ruby Red Heart” is a more midpaced song with some slightly more textured, slow-burning riffing – a nice change, and one that bodes well for the band's future. Here's hoping they do more like it.

The rest of the album is pretty good, especially “Deceiver” and the melodic closer “Four Seasons,” but nothing that really lives up to that amazing middle streak they had going. I think the problem is that it's just too long of an album – 14 tracks is a lot for this style of metal, and the band doesn't really vary up the style. So while none of the songs are really lacking and they're entertaining while they're on, it's just a lot to play all at once. But Wardrum is a band with a huge well of potential underneath them like untapped land with oceans of oil underneath, and I hope they can really generate all of it for the follow up. The next one could be a real classic if they do it right.

Pound those drums! Pound 'em! - 82%

Xlxlx, March 11th, 2015

So, Greece, eh? The land that gave us the Odyssey, moussaka, and Rotting Christ. Not a bad track record, if you ask me, and Wardrum's last album as of now does nothing whatsoever to dispel the notion that the land of Olympus rules. A strong, if somewhat bloated piece of work, dominated by lots of enthusiasm and a killer vocalist, Messenger is a fun ride, sure to please anyone with a taste for simple, yet well crafted metal.

The music itself belongs to that reliable, crunchy branch of power metal where you'll find the likes of Tad Morose and Angel Dust. Pretty accesible stuff with a thing for big melodic hooks and catchy choruses, yet still retaining a lot of bite and swagger. The sound is crystal clear, but far from overproduced and nicely thick, accentuating the chugging guitars and shrieking vocals the most, to a positive effect. The songwriting itself is very consistent, most songs staying around the 4-5 minutes mark, and sticking either to a constant mid-tempo or a hastier, pseudo speed metal pace. Particular highlights include the titletrack, with its aggressive, USPM-styled riffing and blistering solo, "Lady Jane Grey", which is on the poppier, more melodic side of things, and both "Travel Far Away" and "Vengeance", which are tied for the best chorus in the record.

In fact, the choruses are easily this record's main strength, in no small part thanks to Yannis Papadopoulos' fantastic performance. This guy was pretty much born to sing heavy metal; with a clear, sharp tenor, a terrific range, and incredible ear for melody, he sounds like the second coming of Midnight. He's perfectly capable of keeping it subtle, of course, but he's at his best when he just belts it all out and soars like an eagle. In fact, he's a bit TOO good, in the sense that he eclipses the rest of the band. Oh, sure, they're all very competent musicians, and Kosta Vreto gets a moment to shine in the guitar department here and there, but overall, while they all work well as a unit, Yannis ends up being by far the best thing on display here. This brings me to the second problem Messenger has, which is its runtime and consistency. Now, complaining about a record being too consistent might sound crazy (kinda like saying a singer's too good, eh?), but this isn't varied or well written enough to justify its hour long runtime. This isn't to say that any of the songs are bad per se, but that an album that pretty much sticks to a single way of doing things for its entire duration would benefit from trimming down all of the fat, as by the ninth or tenth song, everything starts to blend together.

Don't let these flaws deter you though, as they're relatively minor and shouldn't bother an enthusiast of the style too much. Messenger is a very competently played and written album, and pretty much any fan of modern power metal is likely to find something that appeals to them here. In fact, it has left me eager to check out Wardrum's other two full lengths, which is nothing but a good sign. Go Greece!