Grand Magus - Triumph and Power (Nuclear Blast)

Give this time to worm it's way into your affections - the effort is worh it!
Release Date: 
31 Jan 2014 (All day)

Seven albums into their career, Swedes Grand Magus could very well be said to have found their niche. Stately, classic sounding traditional metal is their stock in trade, tinged by connections to their Viking lineage, but without the full-on horned helmet treatment employed by so many of their contemporaries with varying levels of success and/or laughter ringing in their ears as we try, unsuccessfully to conceal our mirth at their stern-faced antics. Grand Magus might well be Norsemen, but they are metal men first and foremost, and that’s something I like very much about them. 

Triumph and Power is, of course, extremely metal. So metal in fact that first track On Hooves of Gold sounds like Manowar circa Into Glory Ride. If trad, doomy metal’s your game there’s probably no finer template to appropriate for yourself than the sound of IGR, and Janne ‘JB’ Christoffersson, Fox Skinner and Ludwig Witt avail themselves of that sound frequently throughout the album. As time has gone by Christoffersson’s vocals have matured into a handy weapon, and, whilst he’s no Eric Adams he sings the anthemic tunes of glory contained within TaP with a fulsome bellow that actually seems to fit the songs better than someone taking a more ‘operatic’ approach. He never oversings anything, which leaves driving anthems like Fight sounding well, believable I guess, like a battle-hardened general urging his troops into one more battle – you’ll be strapping on your armour while you listen, I can tell you. Such is the conviction of the man’s delivery, you’ll be looking to hunt down any Anglo Saxon priests that stumble across your path and have them tasting your steel before they have the chance to shout ‘Game of Thrones is my favourite TV Show!’. Or something along those lines.

But I digress. To be honest, I’ve felt for a little while that the high water mark for this band might well have been 2008’s superb Iron Will. To my mind the last couple of albums have seen the band treading water a little, and though this album gives up its treasures slowly – I was on my fourth or fifth listen before I really realised just how good it is – you have to say that magnificent songs like the title track really are among the best this band has released. Powerful, melodic, rooted in the classics of the genre while never really sailing too close to the wind, originality wise – the whole album has a comfortingly familiar feel without ever screaming out ‘PLAGIARY!!’ at you – Triumph and Power is a magnificent slab of ‘proper’ heavy metal as it used to be made in the late seventies/early eighties. If that sounds appealing to you I doubt whether you’ll hear better for a while to come.