Not gonna lie: I spent much of October working on my own music (shameless plug) and being completely enamored of what is almost certainly going to be November’s pick for Power Metal Album of the Month. So it was only in the last week or so that I really dove into the month’s offerings of metal both pure and true. But as always there were more than a few golden nuggets to be had, and I was hard pressed to pick between four stellar stand outs (always a good problem to have!). So I literally rolled some dice and came up with the majestic speed and 80s influence of Hammer King and their third album of classic metal Poseidon Will Carry Us Home.
But damn, any one of the albums listed below could have taken it so read on for the heavy and the pure!
“Classic” isn’t used for nothing: the music found on Poseidon Will Carry Us Home is spun from the webs of bands like Iron Maiden and Helloween with a touch of folk in the melodies that differentiates it from the progenitors of the 80s. Twin harmonies abound on tracks like “Battle of Wars” supported in a production that isn’t slick but provides a rough-hewn toughness that fits the music. “Where the Hammer Hangs” is another stand-out, and once you get over the tongue-in-cheek song titles you’re left with some propulsive chugging riffs and choruses that hit home. There’s a compactness to songs like the stinging “Locust Plague” you don’t normally get in power metal, and it’s a refreshing bite, made even better paired with follow-up “At the Mercy of the Waves.”
If there’s a complaint to be had beyond the production which might not be to everyone’s taste (I appreciated the fact it wasn’t a typical reverb drenched nightmare) it’s the vocals of lead singer Titus Fox. At times it comes across as a wavering Geddy Lee but when he slips in to a slightly lower register and moves with the tunes it’s not only effective, it’s a nice change of pace from what you typically get in European power metal. I dug it, especially when paired with the solid songwriting on Poseidon Will Carry Us Home. By the time you get to closer “We Sail Cape Horn” the band has entered full epic Iron Maiden mode, and it’s surprising how well the glove fits. Hammer King feels like their growing into their own on this release, and it only bodes for bigger and better things from here forward.
October Quick Hits
Striker – Play to Win: Striker comes back after last year’s self titled album improving on the concise hard rock they’ve been slowly evolving toward. Boasting a beefier production this is just balls out built for sing-alongs like the best heavy AOR metal of my youth. Songs like “Positions of Power” and the title track evoke images of synchronized stage moves and a lot of fishnet. Like Winger but awesome. Or Hurricane – anyone remember that band? Slave to the Thrill? I’m totally okay with this.
Orion’s Reign – Scores of War: Battle heavy European power metal with symphonic elements and Ripper Owens. This will be a theme. I wish the production served the music better: we’re treading into cliche territory but the execution and fist raising epicality (my dictionary says this is not a word but I refuse to live in a world where it isn’t) makes up for it on the opener “Elder Blood” and “Last Stand” which gave me a thrill with the guest vocals of Mark “You Don’t Remember I’ll Never Forget” Boals. A total power banger from front to back.
Guardians of Time – Tearing Up The World: More battle heavy European power metal with symphonic elements and Ripper Owens! AND ABBATH!!!! The Norwegians band’s fifth album is all rapid fire percussion, siren vocals and guitars that fire across the deck of the heaviest of rocks. Did I mention ABBATH IS ON THIS ALBUM? Also the album cover looks like that monster from Iced Earth and Disturbed went to Norway to slaughter a bunch of vikings. With Abbath, maybe. I dig this album so much.
Like I said, all of these are standouts and equally worthy of the PMAOTM mantle. Enjoy the feast and until next time keep it heavy, and let us know what we should be looking out for in November!